CEBU – In one of the most bizarre endings to a game seen down south, one team in the 2018 Governors Cup tournament won on a buzzer-beating three-pointer only to discover later that it had six players on the floor.
Such was the controversial scenario at the end of the Naga Electrifiers' 93-91 win over defending champions and neighborhood rival Minglanilla Archangels, which presented an officiating dilemma that almost certainly has never been seen before in this basketball hotbed.
Justin Atilano banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer to spark wild celebrations on Monday night inside the Enan Chiong Activity Center, but videos later surfaced showing the Electrifiers had six players on the floor in the final play.
As seen from the video, one player came in for the final play, but the one he was supposed to substitute didn't leave the court.
Tournament organizers led by Cebu Provincial Sports Commission executive director Atty. Ramil Abing met on Tuesday afternoon to resolve the controversy. They will be announcing the findings of their investigation on Wednesday morning.
The Archangels, which were led by phenom guard Steve Nash Enriquez, were ahead by one, 91-90, with possession with the Electrifiers with 0.7 of a second left.
Naga head coach Renato Alforque called for a substitution but the said player apparently did not know he was being subbed out and remained on the floor. Alforque was seen furiously gesturing for his player to come off the floor but the ball had already been inbounded to Atilano, who shot in the game-winner.
The Naga celebration that proved shortlived as Minglanilla immediately placed the result under protest upon learning of what happened during that final possession.
The bizarre end was met with mixed reactions from Cebu’s basketball fans, both the funny and the serious.
“Ang ganda ng play nila. Libreng-libre yung isa. Kaya naman pala, anim sila sa loob,” said Tata Sato of Carcar City.
Gio Antigua on the other hand, said “Baka libero yung isa!”
Atilano was a mixed bag of emotions when SPIN.ph spoke to him on Tuesday.
“I was very happy when I made that shot. It was the very first buzzer-beating game winner of my career. It’s just sad that it came under those circumstances,” said Atilano, who admitted he didn’t notice they had an extra man on the floor.