SAN Mig Coffee survived a late-game fightback from Alaska, 84-83, on Saturday night as Aces star Cyrus Baguio missed what could have been a game-winning three-point shot in a PBA Commissioner’s Cup thriller at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Mixers’ heart-stopping win though took a sudden twist as Aces team manager Dickie Bachman said they are placing the game under protest over a questionable call made by the referee while Abueva was about to shoot a potential game-tying free throw with 12.1 seconds to play.
Just before the Alaska rookie could release the ball on his second free throw, referee Jess Ferrer waived the attempt, called a double-lane violation as players from both sides swarmed to the shaded lane, and called for a jump ball.
Alaska coach Luigi Trillo vehemently protested the call.
“I’m going to deliver the letter and I’ll just leave it to the guard (on Sunday) at the PBA office,” said a dejected Bachman after the game.
“This is the first time I saw it (the call on double-lane violation before an attempt was made) happen. We just want to clarify because it’s a big game, at least, we could have got it to overtime.”
Trillo said that call practically decided the outcome of the game as it somehow affected the Aces’ momentum following a strong endgame fightback from a 10-point deficit.
The Aces won the jump ball but Abueva, who fired a career-high 27 points and fuelled Alaska's fightback with a pair of late three-point plays, missed on a drive to the basket and Baguio's open three-point try bounced off the rim.
“A game like that, well, there are some calls you don’t make. But it just decided the outcome of the game,” Trillo said, fuming.
“It’s a free throw. Why blow the whistle? Calvin was trying to make the shot. It really just pulled our hearts out and took the game from us,” he added.
Trillo said the controversial call easily flattened the confidence of the Aces, who came charging back when Abueva eight of the team’s last 13 points inside the final four minutes.
“I just have to come here (press room) and make my stand for my team. It would have been nice if we played it in overtime. Now they are saying the rule can be made before the shot. Is it really before the shot or after the shot? It’s just hard. We came back from 10 points down and we thought we deserve to go to overtime,” he added.
Alaska stayed in first place at 7-3, while San Mig improved to 5-5 as Tim Cone stayed perfect in games against his former team.
San Mig 84 - Bowles 30, Barroca 16, Simon 14, De Ocampo 10, Pingris 7, Yap 5, Reavis 2, Mallari 0, Najorda 0
Alaska 83 - Abueva 27, Jazul 19, Dozier 15, Baguio 11, Dela Cruz 4, Reyes 2, Eman 2, Belasco 2, Thoss 1, Ramos 0, Espinas 0, Hontiveros 0
Quarterscores: 21-21, 39-36, 61-54, 84-83