Singapore case drags PBA into game-fixing mess
The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) was dragged into a case involving a Singaporean businessman, who was charged in his home country for allegedly offering several players to influence games during the league’s 2018 season.
Already aware of the report that came out in The Straits Times, commissioner Willie Marcial said the league will look into accusations that Magnolia’s Ian Sangalang and unnamed players from Blackwater received offers to fix games from Koa Wei Quan, who is facing 14 graft charges in his home country.
In the said report by the Singaporean publication using court documents, Koa offered almost $70,000 in bribes to not just PBA players, but also to Thailand’s local league where current PBA 3×3 star Almond Vosotros was also named.
“We will investigate,” Marcial said on Saturday before declining to provide further details.
Details emerged that Koa offered Sangalang $5,000 during the course of the 2018 Philippine Cup Finals that eventually saw Magnolia losing to San Miguel Beer for the championship.
The series-clinching Game 5 was also said in the report as having been influenced by Koa, through help of former PBA player Leo Avenido and one Sergei Bien Orillo.
Avenido, who played for several PBA players before suiting up for a number of lower-level leagues and Orillo were said to have arranged for the Hotshots to lose by at least nine points to the Beermen which turned out to be the case as the Beermen won in double overtime, 108-99.
Magnolia actually led during the late stages of regulation before San Miguel made a stunning run to force the first extension. Sangalang also ended that game with eight turnovers.
Philippines, No. 2
The two were also asked by Koa to offer a combined total of P2.025 million for unspecified Blackwater players to win by four points or less or lose to Columbian (now-Terrafirma) and beat Phoenix during a pair of games in that year’s Commissioner’s Cup.
Vosotros, meanwhile, was mentioned being offered a total of $3,700 divided into three games between June to July 2018 while playing for Thailand Basketball League side Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA).
Documents did not reveal if any of these players accepted Koa’s offers.
The league has had its share of game-fixing controversies during its 48-year run, though almost all cases eventually resulted in dead ends or reduced to mere speculations.
But the PBA encountered problems in the D-League where several teams pulled out during the middle of the tournament amid allegations of questionable performances.
Leagues outside of the PBA were also dealing with similar cases, most recently being the VisMin Super Cup match between Siquijor and Lapu-Lapu in 2021.
Data provided by Sportradar, a sports integrity firm, revealed in a 2022 report that the Philippines had 37 matches deemed suspicious, ranked second in Asia behind China’s 41 and above Thailand’s 35.
Incidentally, two cage clubs, namely the Shanghai Sharks and Jiangsu Dragons, were recently kicked out by the Chinese Basketball Association amid suspicions of game-fixing.
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