Game 5 of the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup Finals was another instant classic. The battle between the hungry challengers and the proud defending champions had storylines on top of storylines.
There was June Mar Fajardo who perhaps had the worst half on his entire PBA career, but still came up with a 20-20 game. Marcio Lassiter was finally playing a great game after suffering a back injury. Magnolia overcame fouled out bigs and Paul Lee's injury, and Mark Barroca hit the biggest shot of the series thus far.
However, when you recall Game 5, the first thing people will talk about was the intruder dressed as Spider-Man.
It soiled an instant classic. It killed the momentum of the game.
Players get injured with moves they practice every day. They get hurt with contact they actually brace for. A player running straight into another person going full speed ahead is a recipe for disaster.
The intruder ran right into the most well-liked PBA player today in Fajardo, and he hurt him.
For those who might not know, Fajardo is one of the most humble people you'll meet. Amidst the personal accolades, championships, money and fame, if you bump into him in public, chances are he'll be the first to apologize.
The runner's plea after he was nabbed was to relay his message of solidarity and love but it's difficult to believe that the message was really what he wanted to push here. He wanted fame, infamy to be more apt. He wanted the attention of the thousands watching inside the Smart-Araneta Coliseum and the millions more watching at home. He wanted to be talked about, maybe even praised for his message but it fell on deaf ears because he chose the wrong manner of doing so.
Christian Standhardinger and Chris Ross were the first to express their displeasure as they bumped the intruder after seeing him collide with their teammate, which could have also prevented him from running into more people. PBA personnel and the arena security got to him 10 seconds after he collided with Fajardo.
Everyone wanted a piece of the guy for hurting Fajardo. Some overzealous people managed to sneak in a punch or two but the violence was kept at a minimum and rightfully so. The players had every right to protect themselves as the invader ransacked their place of work, which could have caused them harm. Force needed to be used to bring him down but other than that no harm should have been done to the guy after the security personnel already had him subdued.
After his accomplices were also escorted into the dugout area, another fan wanted to express his displeasure as he threw a punch from the patron section. The security personnel were also quick to pinpoint the individual and escort him out, which was the perfect way of dealing with it. It didn't matter whose side he was on. He committed a mistake and he, too, will have to pay for it.
It's frustrating that this event ended up going viral after being picked up by international news agencies because Philippine basketball has so much to offer. The invader will now spend at least a night in jail. The PBA Office will surely do everything they can to make sure this never happens again.
Fans of the PBA are lucky to get liberal access to the players. The security personnel even allow them to take pictures on the court before the game and during halftime. Now, with his development, it wouldn't be a surprise if stricter rules are put in place. The PBA will have to protect its players and limiting chances of this happening again should be a priority, even if it means also limiting fans' access to the court.
This may be just one of the steps that the PBA will have to take and the fans will bear the brunt of it because of one guy's desire for his 15 minutes of fame.