TALK & TEXT  SAYS  FIELDING  ASI  JUSTIFIED

MANILA, February 2, 2005 
(STAR) Talk n Text maintained yesterday that it had not committed any violation that would justify any sanction or penalty from the Philippine Basketball Association concerning the Phone Pals’ fielding of Paul Asi Taulava in Game 1 of the PBA Philippine Cup finals.

The Pals scored an emphatic 89-71 win over Barangay Ginebra in the series opener but the Kings management put the game under protest.

In its formal reply to the protest filed by Ginebra Monday, Talk n Text, through its PBA board representative Ricky Vargas, cited the reasons why the PBA cannot give due course to the protest.

Vargas said the league would be violating the Jan. 26 order of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) if the PBA would penalize Talk n Text for complying with the court’s order to allow Taulava to resume playing in the PBA.

"To give due course to the protest would constitute a circumvention of the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction as it would allow an indirect defiance of the court order in the guise of resolving a protest and imposing arbitrary sanctions and penalties," said Vargas.

To disprove Ginebra’s contention that Talk n Text violated the Jan. 14 deadline for lineup changes, Vargas pointed out the following:

• That Talk n Text team manager Frankie Lim submitted to the PBA Commissioner’s Office their line-up last Jan. 12 along with a letter stating that the team left a space for its 12th member reserved for Taulava. The letter made clear the Pals’ intention to include Taulava in the roster except that he was still suspended at the time.

• On Jan. 28, Lim sent another letter to inform Eala that by virtue of a court order dated Jan. 26, Taulava was named as the 12th member of the Talk n Text team pursuant to the first letter of Jan. 12. Accordingly, Talk n Text did not change the team lineup beyond the prescribed period because Asi Taulava was named as the 12th member as of Jan. 12.

As to the allegation that Taulava remains suspended in the PBA and should not have played in Game 1, Vargas said that "pursuant to the court order dated Jan. 26, Taulava shall be allowed "to resume the exercise of his contractual rights including his right to play in the current All Filipino Conference and succeeding conferences of the PBA during the term of the Uniform Players’ Contract dated June 19, 2001."

"Clearly, the PBA’s memorandum dated Nov. 16, 2004 is inapplicable in the case of Mr. Taulava since the court order is in the nature of a status-quo ante, meaning that Mr. Taulava is to be considered eligible to play as if he was not suspended at all," said Vargas.

"Therefore, Mr. Taulava was no longer considered a suspended player when he entered the court in uniform, sat on the team bench and played last Sunday’s game," the Talk n Text official added.

On their supposed non-compliance with the process for the reinstatement of Taulava, the Pals maintained that the board resolution of the PBA (dated Dec. 6, 2004) prescribing that process "has no basis whatsoever in terms of its application or relevance to Mr. Taulava since "it should be given prospective and not retroactive application."

"In view of the foregoing, the Talk n Text team did not commit any violation as charged in the letter dated Jan. 31 of Mr. Arnaldo Africa of Barangay Ginebra Kings that would justify the protest and the imposition of any sanction or penalty against Talk n Text," said Vargas in concluding the Pals’ response to the Ginebra protest.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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