The San Miguel Beermen were well on their way to a 117-100 victory against the Phoenix Fuel Masters when Kevin Murphy and Calvin Abueva wrestled under the basket after a rebound, with Murphy holding Abueva in a rear headlock as the two stumbled to the baseline. Murphy is adamant he was merely trying to hold on to Abueva.
"I mean, it was really just trying to hold him up. It just so happened that my arm was around his neck. But I didn't choke him, I was just holding him," Murphy said after the game. "He just kept pushing me back. So, I mean, I'm not a dirty player, you know what I mean, so it is what it is."
Murphy was called for a flagrant foul penalty 1. The altercation sparked a commotion that resulted in Phoenix coach Louie Alas, team manager Paolo Bugia, and Doug Kramer getting technical fouls for coming onto the court.
Murphy and Abueva played each other tough all game before things eventually got chippy with 4:11 remaining in the fourth period. Murphy said he was fine with the physicality, but not with what he characterized as cheap shots.
"I expected it to be physical but my thing is if you play physical, that's cool, but don't do cheap shots," he said. "I'm okay with playing physical, playing hard to compete but my thing is if you hit me with cheap shots the whole game and the ref just letting it go and stuff like that. I mean, I can play through that but it don't mean that I like it so that's how it was."
Phoenix coach Louie Alas, meanwhile, begged to differ.
Alas said Murphy should have been slapped with a flagrant foul penalty 2 -- which results in an ejection -- for what he believed was a choke hold on Abueva.
"For me it was a [flagrant foul penalty 2]. That's a choke, I don't know what they were watching," said Alas in Filipino when he emerged from the dugout. "People were texting me that's a choke. But it is what it is. Maybe if that happened to us, it would have been a different call. But that's not right."
Murphy sounded eager to move on and savor his first victory in the PBA.
"We just gotta keep remembering how we played. Take that same energy into practice this week, just have to carry it over to the next game," Murphy said.