ARQ’s strange VisMin arc

This is my Fair Play column for SunStar Cebu on April 16

THE VisMin Super Cup started on April 9 but it took months of hard work to get there. I think the idea behind the VisMin Super Cup was started even before the pandemic but it was about in the final quarter of last year when folks went beyond talking to making it happen.

And they had to hurdle a lot of things, and not just the pandemic. One of the things they had to decide on was to adhere to the Games and Amusements Board ruling, that if you play for pay, then you’re a professional league. That’s something they didn’t skirt around, something they should be lauded for.

All their hard work, of course, faced an early end when strange things began to happen in the game between the Siquijor Mystics and ARQ Builders Lapu-Lapu City Heroes. Now, I’m not a basketball expert, but even I know enough that if you’d miss an open layup and the ball bounces kindly with no opposing player near it, you don’t freeze under the backboard and wait.

So Siquijor got booted out and ARQ Lapu-Lapu only got a few players suspended. Some say it was not fair and that both teams deserved to be expelled. But I think this is where ARQ’s reputation came into play.

Let me be clear, first. I don’t know the owner nor the coach. Heck, I don’t even know most of the players. But I do know that in the local commercial circuits, ARQ has been around for years and it was never involved in any shenanigan. So I give the team owner the benefit of the doubt when he said his players’ action was a poorly-thought reply to Siquijor’s blatant attempt to pad the margin.

Rendell Senining got pilloried from pillar to post for hitting his free throws with his left and right hand — and arranging his hair in between the attempts — but I’d like to know the reason. I don’t think he’s a guy who could be tempted with a few thousands to throw a match. It seemed more like a petulant response to what was happening around him.

Call it bias but I don’t see how a former Ateneo de Cebu player could throw a game for money and it’s not because we know Ateneo guys are rich but because I know for a fact that Ateneo de Cebu players, especially under the late Rico Navarro, learn and know their values. So yeah, I’d like to know the reason for that now viral video clip.

The VisMin Super Cup has handed swift sanctions but I hope that’s not the end of it. Sadly, I read on Twitter that the players involved may be barred from the MPBL and that’s unfortunate, especially after the VisMin Super Cup tried to convince the pro league pretending to be amateur to not treat their players as ex-pros.

Those who know basketball know these things happen. They talk of these in whispers. There was that D-League game involving Mila’s Lechon and didn’t the NBI once get involved in the MPBL?

To discourage this, there must be some punishment. And by punishment I don’t mean one that only involves basketball authorities.

As some pointed out, when basketball in the region has been shut down, when all local commercial leagues and “panalay” contests were forced to shut down, the players in the VisMin Super Cup should have counted themselves lucky to find themselves a job.

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