Arwind Santos, a forward who plays in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), initially refused to apologize for making monkey-like gestures to a black opponent. It happened while his team San Miguel Beermen faced TNT KaTropa in game 5 of the Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Wednesday.
The opposing player was Terrence Jones, a former member of the NBA who played for the Houston Rockets, the New Orleans Pelicans and the Milwaukee Bucks. He was also on the University of Kentucky’s hoop team during college.
The game took place at the Araneta Coliseum in the Philippines’ Quezon City, and in the final minute of the second quarter Santos was seen making the racist gestures by the bench near his teammates.
“I’m going to apologize? No,” he told reports after the game. “It depends on him. If he was annoyed, [that means] he’s a real monkey. If he wasn’t annoyed, he’s not a monkey … We just wanted to win. If he gets annoyed, that’s not my fault. That’s just how basketball is … Basketball is a mind game. Maybe he saw it and he’ll get annoyed. That’s in my favor.”
Santos, who’s 38, said it wasn’t the first time he performed the act, it was something he used against Dorian Peña, a PBA player who’s both Black and Filipino.
“I used to do that [before], but I never received any warnings,” he stated. “[But] I was given a warning by Commissioner and the coaches [at halftime], that’s why I didn’t do it anymore.”
After Santos received plenty of backlash on social media, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial told ESPN5 he was fined P200,000 and will serve 100 hours of community service. But he wasn’t suspended for game 6.
“He’ll also undergo seminar and counseling on equality so when he learns from it, he can impart that knowledge to kids and fellow players,” Marcial explained.
“I’d like to ask for understanding from Terrence Jones and his family for what happened,” added the commissioner. “This isn’t the stand of the PBA and the league does not condone what Arwind did, which has no place in the league.”
Santos eventually issued an apology to Jones but only after he was punished.
“To make it short, I’m sorry. I would like to say sorry to Terrence Jones,” he told ESPN5. “I [didn’t] mean anything [towards] him. I’m also sorry to all the fans, all San Miguel fans, everyone who was hurt because I really didn’t have any bad intention. I’m only human. I also commit mistakes. I know I was wrong, and that’s why I’m apologizing.”
Santos also apologized to Jones in a tweet after he was penalized, then in person slightly before game six, which the former Houston Rocket said he accepted.
“He apologized, but it was close to game time and at that point I’m in game mode,” stated Jones. “I heard him but I was more focused on the game at that point.”
On Thursday, Jones posted a message to his Instagram page and called for the PBA to act swiftly. You can read his full message here.