MANILA - A Philippine basketball player was banned for four months and fined heavily on Thursday after alleging on Twitter that matches in the country's professional league are rigged, the body said.
Don Carlos Allado made the allegations in a series of posts on his microblog after his team, Barako Bull, lost to the Powerade team and were eliminated from the semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association's Governor's Cup.
"I'm the guy that says what others can't. #PBA games are fixed. They control who is in & who is out. It's a disgrace to be in this league," the 1.98-metre (six foot six inch) centre tweeted on Tuesday.
"I can accept losing to teams. But I can't accept losing bcoz of referees," he said, apparently referring to a non-call late in the Barako Bull-Powerade game that resulted in a Powerade basket to extend their lead to eight points. The tweets have since been removed from his account, @alotofDON.
League Commissioner Chito Salud ruled Allado, 35, would be banned for the duration of the All-Filipino Conference that runs from September 30 to late January, said Mitch Flores, a member of the pro league's media relations unit.
Allado, 35, was also fined 500,000 pesos (about $12,000), punishments which are believed to be among the heaviest ever imposed in the 37-year-old PBA, the first professional league in Asia.
Salud could not be reached for comment on Thursday, but in a statement posted on the PBA website he took exception to what he considered an attack on the country's most popular sport.
"He's certainly way out of line. He is indicting not just the game officials but the entire organisation and membership of the league... his co-players and team officials alike," Salud said.
"It's irresponsible coming from a guy that has benefited for 13 years from the league that he now attacks."
The league website said television viewership was at an eight-year high, with more than four million viewers watching the last match of the Commissioner's Cup in a single-night high earlier this year.