Right after the TNT Tropang Giga won their first-ever PBA Governors' Cup championship at the expense of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, the Philippine Basketball Association has found itself in hot water over an alleged game-fixing incident.
Singaporean businessman Koa Wei Quan was charged with 14 counts of graft on Thursday, April 20, in the State Courts in Singapore. According to reports, Koa Wui Quan has been accused of offering nearly $70,000 in bribes to fix the results of basketball games in the PBA and Thailand Basketball League.
PBA Involves in Singaporean's Game-Fixing Scheme
According to The Straits Times, Koa Wei Quan, who used to own the transportation firm Koa Motor, had offered a bribe of $5,000 to one Ian Sangalang on or around April 6, 2018. Ian Sanggalang was and still is playing for the Magnolia Hotshots.
According to the same report, Koa Wei Quan worked with two others, a certain Sergei Bien Orillo and former PBA player Leonidez Zapata Avenido, to arrange for the Magnolia Hotshots to lose by nine or more points against the San Miguel Beermen in the 2017-18 PBA Philippine Cup Final Game 5.
The San Miguel Beermen won Game 5 and the championship in 2OT, 108-99, the exact margin the case alleged.
Aside from a certain Ian Sangalang, Koa Wei Quan also offered 525,000 pesos to unknown players from the Blackwater Elite to win by a four-point margin or less or lose their match against the Columbian Dyip in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
The Blackwater Elite's first game in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup was against the Columbian Dyip, where they lost 98-126.
On April 25, 2018, Koa Wei Quan again offered 1.5 million pesos to unknown players from the same team to win against the Phoenix Fuel Masters by an unspecified margin. Unfortunately, the Blackwater Elite lost 5 points against the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 102-107.
Already aware of the situation, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said, "We'll investigate. We'll look closely into the allegations. We'll talk to the players. It will be a long process."
Ian Sangalang Denies Involvement, Files Charges to Accuser
Magnolia Hotshots' big man Ian Sangalang vehemently denied his involvement in the game-fixing allegations of Koa Wei Quan.
According to reports, Ian Sangalang met with PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial on Monday, April 24, to clear his name. However, Ian insisted that he didn't know Koa Wei Quan, the Singaporean businessman allegedly involved in several game-fixing incidents.
"I don't know that person. That’s not true,” Sangalang told Marial. "I'll never trade my career and dignity for that kind of thing."
For the record, Sangalang recorded 11 points, five assists, three rebounds, one steal, and one block in Magnolia Hotshot's loss against the San Miguel Beermen in the 2017-18 PBA Philippine Cup Final Game 5. However, he also recorded game-high eight turnovers.
Ian Sangalang will also be taking appropriate actions against the 32-year-old Singaporean businessman.
Thailand Basketball League's Involvement
Aside from the PBA, Thailand Basketball League was also involved in Koa Wei Quan's case in Singapore. Court documents showed that Koa Wei Quan also tried to influence the results of games in Thailand's professional league.
A bribe of $1,200 was allegedly offered to a certain Almond Pineda Vosotros on or around June 24, 2018, to arrange for the Thai General Equipment basketball club and the Provincial Electricity Authority basketball club to have a 23-point spread in their game.
A bribe of $1,500 was also offered to one Jalen Robinson to arrange for the two teams to have the same outcome.
Koa Wei Quan allegedly worked with one Poh Wei Hao to give Vosotros a $1,000 bribe for the Provincial Electricity Authority basketball club to lose its match against the Mono Vampire basketball club in a July 1, 2018 game.
Koa Wei Quan and Poh Wei Hao again offered a bribe of $1,500 to Vosotros to arrange for the Provincial Electricity Authority basketball club and the Hi-Tech Assumption Thonburi basketball club to play out a total score of under 165 points in a July 7, 2018 game.
Almond Vosotros was a Filipino professional basketball player who played for the TNT Tropang Giga in the PBA. In 2018, he signed with Mono Thewphaingarm of the Thailand Basketball League. After the season ended, he signed with Provincial Electricity Authority in the same league.
Like Ian Sangalang, Almond Vosotros vehemently denied the allegations that he was involved in a game-fixing scheme.
"When I read that story, I did not even pay attention to it. I received messages from reporters asking me about and honestly, I don't know anything about it. I don't even know that person," he told reporters on Monday, April 24, during the Philippine team's send-off ceremony for the Southeast Asian Games.
Almond Vosotros admitted he received messages during his second stint in the Thailand Basketball League with Provincial Electricity Authority, but he never entertained any of them.
The 33-year-old Vosotros also said he is keen on filing a case against Koa "to clear his name."
Stern Warning from PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial
As the PBA was once again involved in a hot mess, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial warned players, coaches, and teams who thought of participating in the game-fixing scheme.
"[Game fixing] would be fined with huge penalty. You can be suspended or entirely removed from the PBA. The PBA could also file a case, as well as the Games and Amusement Boards. It's not ethical. All leagues forbid that," he told News5.
"It's bad for you, it's bad for the league, don't [participate] in game-fixing and we really don't allow things like that."
As the PBA promised to investigate further, Koa Wei Quan's case has been adjourned to May 18. If found guilty and convicted of graft, he can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000.
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