Newly crowned back-to-back champion Mobil will have to defend its Emon Lodge caging title next season without 2010 MVP Jun Estolas.
The Mobil guard was slapped with a two-year suspension after clashing with Ashley's/Brabu's Marlon De Dios during their semis game last Thursday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
The incident happened in the fourth quarter with De Dios collaring the rebound and accidentally hitting Estolas with his extended elbow, as he tried to hold tight to the ball. Estolas then swung his left arm and also hit De Dios, who then retaliated with a punch, according to spectators of the game. De Dios was also suspended due to his unsportsmanlike conduct, but the suspension was only for three games
Emon Lodge caging commissioner Ed Manalili, in an interview with Saipan Tribune last Saturday before the Mobil-Hi-Five title game, explained that De Dios' elbow on Estolas was accidental and the Mobil guard was given the heftier punishment because he instigated the fight.
Manalili added that Estolas' suspension was similar to Jack Lizama's. The Archers' big men first engaged in a word war with Hi-Five's James Lee during a regular season game before throwing a headbutt at the latter.
Mobil coach Marvin Deocares protested on the suspension as expected.
“It took them a couple of days to suspend Lizama, while they made the decision on Jun's suspension after only one day. I was informed of the suspension last Friday around 8pm. I tried to appeal the suspension and ask them if it could be implemented next season so Jun can play in the finals, but they said the decision was final,” said Deocares.
Estolas and Lizama will only be suspended in Emon Lodge caging, but not in other leagues that Basketball Association of Northern Marianas Islands help organize. BANMI vice president Elias Rangamar in an earlier interview with Saipan Tribune reiterated that its up for organizers of other leagues to suspend a player or not.