Barkley Ebona insisted that he had no intention of hurting anyone after his duty foul drew a violent reaction from Allein Maliksi in the closing seconds of Converge’s PBA Governors’ Cup match versus Meralco, Friday.
“To be honest, hindi ko naman sadya ‘yun eh,” the third-year big man told reporters moments after their 132-129 loss at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Ebona saw himself on the receiving end of the veteran gunner’s choke hold shortly after giving up a foul with 6.9 ticks left in overtime in an attempt to freeze the clock, as the FiberXers were trailing by a field goal, 130-128, that time.
He was, later on, called for a flagrant foul penalty one (F1) while Maliksi got slapped with an F2, leading to his outright ejection.
“Ang instruction sa amin is try muna namin agawin ‘yung bola, tsaka kami mag-foul. That time, siyempre gusto muna namin makuha ‘yung bola. As much as possible, hindi muna namin gamitin ‘yung foul,” he explained.
“That time parang ang tagal namin maagaw ‘yung bola, and ang dami nang naco-consume na oras so kailangan mag-duty foul.”
In a separate interview, Maliksi said, “para akong sinapak,” and was shaken up by that, although the FEU product denied the punching accusation.
“Hindi naman ako naka-closed fist,” he said. “Medyo hard lang ‘yung pagka-foul ko kasi pasalubong kami — siya pasugod sa side ko, ako pasugod sa side niya. Hindi naman ako nag-closed fist, parang na-grab ko lang ‘yung shoulder niya.”
Ebona admitted that he was caught off-guard by the choke, so much that he could no longer muster any reaction while he was leaning on the LED board placed in front of the scorers’ table along the sideline.
“Nagulat ako na sinakal niya ‘ko. Kasi magkakilala naman kami e,” said the 26-year-old Cebuano. “And nakita niyo naman, hindi ako nag-react kasi akala ko, ordinary foul lang din ang itatawag sa’kin.
“Nagulat ako ganun ‘yung reaction niya kaya pati ako, nagulat din. Kaya hindi ako nakapag-react,” he added.
Ebona actually tried to patch things up with Maliksi following a chance meeting in the dugout but the latter had reservations in accepting his apology.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.