PBA FIESTA: U.S. 5  TO COMPLETE STINT;  SMB GOES ALL-PINOY

MANILA, June 18, 2004
 
(STAR)
The visiting US Pro-Am Selection would finish its commitment to the pro league in the current Gran Matador PBA Fiesta Conference, and look forward to a more competitive stand against San Miguel Beer on Sunday to please local fans following the fracas in the endgame of their contest with Talk n Text Wednesday.

The American cagers, through team leader Melchor "Choy" Layon, even expressed willingness to participate in future PBA invitationals if they were to be invited again.

The Americans will go up against an all-Filipino San Miguel team in a non-bearing game since coach Jong Uichico has decided not to replace Art Long with a new import.

"Mas mahal pa kung magpapadating kami ng import just for one non-bearing game kaysa sa fine for playing without an import. Pwede rin kaming kumuha ng player like Bobby Parks na nandito na, but it would be a mockery of the league. Maybe, weíll make an appeal that the fine be waived since we found ourselves in a situation we donít have any control," said Uichico.

Layon, a Dinalupihan, Bataan native who migrated to the United States at 14 in 1975, said he was sad their game with Talk n Text was marred by a fight but insisted they rushed to the court to defend a fallen teammate.

"We tried to avoid that but it happened so fast. The import (Jerald Honeycutt) tried to hurt one of our players. Thatís not right. Actually, he made an assault and you canít blame us if we retaliated," said Layon on the incident triggered by Honeycutt hitting defender Michael Crotty with the ball on the head then wrestling and tossing him down to the floor on an inbound play with only 5.9 seconds left in the clock.

There was also Asi Taulava who came charging from their bench then tackled Ricardo Scott.

"Agrabyado na kami sa tawagan, talo pa sa laro, tapos kami pa ang sinaktan. We just showed to the PBA hindi pwede iyung ganito," said Layon.

He suggested that Honeycutt be banned in the league. The Filipino US-based player agent alleged the Talk n Text import also tried to hit him but missed.

"He could have killed or badly injured Crotty. Buti okay lang siya. But one (Scott) of our players suffered a back spasm," said Layon.

Layon also said the incident should serve as a lesson to the PBA. "Next time, they must have good security. For the referees, itís a lesson that theyíre supposed to do a good job to avoid conflicts like that," he explained.

The North American Basketball Association director, however, gave credit to PBA commissioner Noli Eala for handling the situation well. "I respect the guy. Heís professional. He came to us, explained and apologized for what happened," he said.

The US Pro-Ams bowed out of contention for the semis on its loss to Talk n Text. They end their fruitless campaign in the tourney Sunday probably with only 10 players since one of them has got a playing contract in Italy. The player wants to leave the soonest possible time. ó Nelson Beltran


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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