Mayor Julz Hataman calls for 'full accountability' from MPBL officials amid Basilan Steel drama

Mayor Julz Hataman calls for 'full accountability' from MPBL officials amid Basilan Steel drama

Another Basilan Steel official chimed in on the situation between them and the MPBL. Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas/MPBL (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Sumisip mayor Julz Hataman has joined the call for the MPBL officials to man up following the drama regarding the Basilan Steel's forfeiture of their supposed South Division Finals game against the Davao Occidental Tigers.

"We demand full accountability from all the officials to save whatever is left with the credibility and integrity of the league," Hataman, who acts as the team's local government unit head representative, said on Sunday.

He then rued what happened to his club, saying, "We hoped and trusted that [the respect and the professionalism] will be manifested in the MPBL, but instead, the despair of our athletes and fans due to the health condition of few of our athletes was aggravated by the unfair decision of not letting the Basilan Steel play in court and depriving the supporters the play they deserve to watch."

MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes announced last week that Davao Occidental will be handed the South Division title outright after some Basilan players were tested positive for COVID-19 after two rounds of RT-PCR testing.

The Tigers eventually won the best-of-five national finals, beating the San Juan Knights in four games.

The forfeiture ruling did not sit well with the Steel's team officials and supporters with Team Owner Hegem Furigay even demanding for a refund of everything they spent inside the league's bubble at the Subic Bay Freeport.

[Related Story: Basilan Steel owner calls for refund of MPBL bubble expenses]

On Saturday, the team posted what appears to be the MPBL's bubble protocols, highlighting a part which states that those tested negative for COVID-19 upon arrival in the Metro Olongapo area shall be given "approval to participate" to counter Duremdes' earlier statement that the entire Basilan team cannot be cleared even if most of the players got negative results.

"We, along with the players and the including the supporters waited with enthusiasm and excitement for a year only to be disappointed by an unjust decision," Hataman further said.

He continued, "We invested, putting two years of dedication, of time, discipline and effort on the line to win every game and make the support of our supporters worthwhile, but in a snap and without much consideration, our hope to win was taken away not in court, but by default—probably almost the worst type of losing in sports."

The statement came hours after reports said that Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas stepped in to help Basilan's cause.

"We deeply appreciate the generosity of Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas, who stepped forward in helping us shouldering some of the cost. Chooks-to-Go has always been a partner of Basilan in promoting the province. In fact, we have been crowned Champions of their 3x3 President's Cup and have represented CTG abroad in Mongolia and China by carrying Isabela City, Basilan. Chooks-to-Go can attest how passionate and supportive we are in building championship-caliber teams. Despite just being a sponsor, they are the one who took the responsibility of this," Hataman added.

However, he believes, "Although we greatly value this gesture, this does not fix the big blunder by the MPBL committee.... It even took someone who is out of league to take some action."

A couple of people privy of the situation told Dugout Philippines that the Steel made a downpayment for their stay at the Subic Bay Peninsular Hotel on their own with the remainder of the expenses to be settled by Wednesday and that they indeed declined Mascariñas' offer.

Meanwhile, Hataman hinted that following what happened to Basilan, some teams are considering to beg off from the MPBL's fourth season scheduled for a June 12 start.

"Member teams have already expressed their disappointment and have already forwarded their exclusion from the next bubble that is still doomed to fail," he further said.

He continued, "We have built this league with so much promise and enthusiasm that is now being challenged by incompetent management. Let us not throw all the hardwork and camaraderie because of this grave blunder. An attack and disrespect to a team is an attack to all member teams.  If they can do this to a team then this can be done to all."

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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