OFFICIALS of the Batangas City Athletics cried foul on Sunday after thwarting a planned change in the MPBL playoff schedule that would've denied them of homecourt advantage in a do-or-die match against Zamboanga.
The Athletics beat Zamboanga, 67-57, late Saturday night to level their best-of-three series in the South Division at 1-1, but were left flabbergasted upon learning that league officials had changed the venue for the series' deciding Game Three.
In a media statement, the Athletics, through team manager Gerry Tee, hit out at MPBL operations manager Zaldy Realubit for what they termed as his 'unprofessional' handling of the situation.
According to Batangas assistant team manager Jean Alabanza, a schedule sent by the league last March 26 had Game 3 of a North Division series being played on Monday in Bataan and Game 3 of a South Division series to be played in Batangas City.
However, Tee said Realubit wanted Game 3 of the Batangas-Zamboanga series to be played in Bataan as part of a double header, supposedly to save resources. But such a move would mean the Athletics losing homecourt advantage in the decider.
As expected, Batangas didn't take the matter sitting down, saying homecourt edge was a perk guaranteed by the league format after the Athletics finished as the third seed in the South Division. Zamboanga was the sixth seed.
“Ever since, [league owner] Senator [Manny] Pacquiao was telling all of us that the MPBL should be patterned after the NBA. How come you will put the other series in the Northern Division. Eh di nawala yung homecourt advantage namin?" said Tee.
"Hindi excuse yung sinasabi niyang ‘para makatipid.’ Bayad na yan kasama sa block time paanong para makatipid? That’s a lame excuse,” added Tee. “Homecourt advantage is very sacred to us and there’s no way we’re going to give it up.”
Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes later stepped in and got the blessings of Pacquiao to overturn the planned scheduled change. But that hardly eased the anger of Batangas officials who continued to take shots at other MPBL officials.
Tee said he still is wary of Realubit's link to former league technical head Bai Cristobal, who is now team consultant of Zamboanga.
“Realubit was the one who brought in Cristobal, who became the technical head until early this season,” added Tee. “He still has his influence on the referees who are officiating there. For the sake of delicadeza, Realubit should inhibit himself from making decisions as far as technicality issues are concerned."
“We are wary and concerned about our remaining games."