JUST seconds after CJ Perez put Lyceum ahead 97-96 in the first overtime of a thrilling match against San Beda, referee Edmar Avis made a critical call which could have changed the outcome of a well-played game between the two top teams in the NCAA Season 93.
With 1.5 seconds left and San Beda in no position to score from the backcourt, the referee called a controversial foul on Lyceum’s JC Marcelino as he and a teammate ganged up on Robert Bolick, sending the Red Lions combo guard to the line with a chance to win the game.
As infuriated Lyceum fans at the Filoil Flying V Center broke out into ‘luto’ chants bracing for a heartbreaking loss, Bolick missed one and made one from the line, sending the game to a second extra period.
The Pirates went on to win, 107-105, to complete an 18-game sweep of the eliminations and seal an automatic place in the finals, but fans' fury over a couple of crucial calls hardly waned after the game.
Amid the uproar, NCAA commissioner Bai Cristobal leapt to the defense of his referees, giving the officials a passing mark.
“Well alam mo, yung mali will always be there e. Pero what I can say is yung mga refs natin, talagang they try their best,” Cristobal said.
“If I will rate it, talagang kung makikita niyo naman and you can base it sa napanood niyo, I’m happy with the way they called it,” he added.
Asked if he’s bothered by the uproar from fans, Cristobal said he’d rather not focus on the negatives, saying that he trusts his referees’ judgement in games as crucial as this one.
“I will not entertain that anymore. As far as the referees are concerned, dalawa lang naman ang pupuntahan namin. They will judge it according sa kung ano ang mga nakita nila and they will always call what is good and right for the game,” he added.
Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson was furious over some calls during the game, but refused to dwell on these after the game.
“I trust Coach Bai a lot, and tao rin sila, nagkakamali. I told my players, just keep on playing. They don't want to be in that situation also, and we honor them also. We know that they're gonna make mistakes and it's not a fault of their own,” said Robinson.
“I told them that instead of making the referees as an excuse, we have to find a way. We have to find a way and we have to really, really grind it with them.”