AS San Miguel and Alaska prepare for a historic Game Seven showdown, PBA legend Abe King expressed the hope that the highly awaited finale of what has been a momentous Philippine Cup Finals will be free from any controversy regarding officiating.
Wednesday night's game at the Mall of Asia Arena marks the first time a best-of-seven series that started with one team taking a 3-0 edge has gone the distance in the 41-year history of the pro league.
It will be more special for San Miguel, which has a shot at becoming the first PBA team in history to win a race-to-four-wins playoff from 0-3 down.
More than the final outcome, King said it is paramount for the league and its officials to ensure that the game will not be clouded by any doubt involving the game officials, airing the hope that the referees can keep the match under control from the onset.
It should be the players - not the referees - who should determine the result, the former Toyota star added.
“Sana ma-kontrol ang game na 'yan na hindi 'yung nagsa-side sila sa officiating sa kabila. Kailangan makita na controlled (fairly) yung game,” said King.
The referees will be integral in the match, King said as he noted that one call can change the flow of a game or swing the momentum in one side's favor.
“Lalo sa ganyan, pag na-break mo 'yung momentum ng kabila, tapos naka-recover na ganyan, 'yung confidence nung mga player sa kabila na naka 3-0, nawawala 'yung trust (sa officiating), nasisira na ang laro. Hindi nila alam kung ano ang foul at hindi,” he added.
As it is, King, who is now based in the US, said social media is already abuzz with accusations of unfair officiating coming from both sides.
“Walang morale, walang trust, walang bilib. Ano ba ang foul at hindi foul? Sa totoo lang, nabuo 'yung kumpiyansa nung wala nang kumpiyansa eh, you know,” said King, an 18-year PBA veteran who is a member of the 5,000-point, 2,000-defensive rebound and 1,000-offensive rebound club.
"Hindi naman bobo ang mga Pilipino manood ng basketball,” he added.
The former San Beda star said this Game 7 will also be a test of the leadership of Commissioner Chito Narvasa, whose officials have come scrutiny is in his conference in charge.
“Syempre, dapat walang reklamo yan," King said. “Dapat dyan, ipakita niya yung kredibilidad ng opisina nya bukas. In fairness, ma-kontrol nya dapat yung game at hindi yung nagsa-side sila sa officiating sa kabila, kailangan makita na controlled ang game.”