Two quick fouls on import Steve Akomo in second half had huge impact in UV play in final against USC, says Lancers coach 
Hobbled by foul trouble, Steve Akomo struggles to defend rival Shooster Olago in the endgame. Ron Tolin

CEBU CITY — University of the Visayas head coach Gary Cortes said two fouls called on Cameroonian import Steve Akomo in a span of four minutes had a huge effect in the Lancers’ play and they eventually bowed in the Cesafi finals to Univesrity of San Carlos.

Akomo picked up his third foul with 1:56 left in the third and the 6-foot-10 center was called for his fourth exactly eight minutes remaining in the game.

With UV’s beanpole playing hesitant defense, USC’s import Shooster Olago found the opening he had been looking for and scored 16 in the last 12 minutes of play to push USC to a 64-53 win to claim their first Cesafi crown.

“Pagbalik ni Steve (Akomo), medyo out of timing na siya and (Shooster) was on a rampage na,” said Cortes on Wednesday.

Akomo agreed with his coach’s assessment and added that the result would be much different without those calls.

“I feel so disappointed with the referees. They really killed my play. Very, very bad calls. I just don’t know what to say right now,” said Akomo.

Cortes is hoping for more consistent officiating next season, noting that switching to a different set of referees during the tournament puts the players off.

The Cesafi has for the last five years used a local officiating crew in the eliminations and semifinals before tapping Manila-based referees for the finals. The Basketball Referees Association for Schools, Colleges and Universities (Brascu) were tapped to handle the finals this year.

According to long-time Cesafi commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy, this is being done in order to protect the local officiating crew from unfair criticism from the coaches of the two competing teams as well as from the fans.

“It would be much better if next year, Manila refs would officiate from preseason all the way to the finals so that players won’t have a hard time adjusting to the calls. Or why not give our local referees the chance to officiate in the Cesafi finals to boost their morale. It’s discriminating on their part to have them start the tournament but not finish it,” added Cortes.

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