QUEZON CITY, Philippines -- A costumed spectator ran onto the the court and disrupted Game 5 of the PBA Philippine Cup finals between the San Miguel Beermen and Magnolia Hotshots Friday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The man, identified by police as Paolo G. Felizarta, 31 years old, of Imus, Cavite, ran onto the court at the 3:06 mark of the fourth quarter holding a sign that reads "Vote! Love!" and collided with San Miguel's June Mar Fajardo. The man also bumped into San Miguel players Christian Standhardinger and Chris Ross in his rush to evade security.
Felizarta insisted that he just wanted to send a message about voting wisely in time for the mid-term elections on Monday. He said he did not see any of the players because his mask was not clear.
"I just want to send a message because it's the elections," he said in Filipino. "I just want everyone to love each other. ... My message is love so why would I hurt him (Fajardo)? He was the one who bumped me."
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said that the league will press charges against the man who entered the court.
"I'm still asking our legal team what kind of case, but for sure, we will file a case," Marcial said in a brief press conference after the game.
Two other men, who denied knowing the costumed man, were also detained by the arena's security personnel. The three were brought to the Quezon City Police District Station 7 in Cubao for questioning.
Fajardo, who hurt his jaw and fell to the floor after the collision, said that he was surprised by the incident.
"Nobody was expecting that to happen," said Fajardo. "Maybe he just wants to get noticed but he did it the wrong way. I hope he's okay, maybe he did not mean it. To the fans, do not copy what he did. I hope this will not happen again because it's dangerous."
Marcial said the PBA will take the measures necessary to avoid similar incidents in the future.
"I will talk to Araneta to add more security," said Marcial. "I will also call NCRPO General [Guillermo] Eleazar to ask if we can add more policemen. This is the first time that this happened to us."
Tubid apologizes for hitting intruding 'Spider-Man'
Ronald Tubid, meanwhile, apologized for punching the costumed spectator.
Tubid chased Felizarta while the latter was being escorted by the arena's security personnel in the hallway leading to the locker rooms.
"I was carried away by my temper," Tubid said in Filipino. "We already had the momentum. Instead of continuing the momentum, we lost by two points."
Tubid said he hit Felizarta out of anger for what happened to Fajardo.
"I was mad because why did it happen? Our big man was hurt so I lost my cool," said Tubid. "I couldn't accept why it happened. As a veteran, I needed to defend my teammate. I threw a punch and I'm sorry."
He admitted that he committed a mistake, especially after learning that Felizarta meant no harm.
"We don't know what's on his mind, but I'm apologizing for what I did because it's also wrong," Tubid said. "If there's something wrong with his mind, if he's crazy or what, we need to understand. I still shouldn't have done it."
Felizarta, who may face charges of unjust vexation and alarm and scandal, was brought to expected to be detained until after the elections. His case may only be processed starting Tuesday because courts are closed on weekends and holidays.