SMART CLARK GIGA CITY – The officiating issue is not a distraction for Meralco heading to its win-or-go-home game against Barangay Ginebra on Wednesday in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.
Coach Norman Black said the team is all focused on the game ahead especially with the Bolts trying to hang on for dear life heading to the 4 p.m. encounter at the Angeles University Foundation gym.
Not even the controversial heckle accusing biased officiating as heard on air early in the fourth quarter of Game 3 was not on the team agenda in the two days since the Bolts fell behind 2-1 in the best-of-five series.
“Not, not at all,” was the Meralco coach’s curt reply shortly after the Bolts’ practice on Tuesday. “Nobody’s worrying about that. We’re not even talking about it.”
The team found itself under suspicion after a voice was heard on live television during a dead-ball situation saying, ‘Ref, lutung-luto to, ah,’ as veteran Reynel Hugnatan was complaining to the referee about a foul called on him.
The 42-year-old big man was later assessed a technical foul for a ‘resentment to the call,’ but denied he ever uttered those words that set off a controversy.
Black admitted having some complaints about officiating during the game which the Kings won, 91-84, which the Bolts already brought to the attention of the technical staff.
“My only complaint was about the three-second call, but we brought it up to the PBA and it’s not something to be discussed about in the media,” said the Meralco mentor.
Black said the team raised all the three-second calls that it felt the referees missed during the game, including the one that Hugnatan was complaining about against Japeth Aguilar. The referees instead whistled a personal foul on the Meralco veteran.
It was during that moment when Hugnatan was talking to a referee when the critical words were heard being said in the background.
“We brought that up with commissioner (Willie Marcial) and (deputy commissioner) Eric Castro, so we did it the way it should be done,” Black said. “We went to the PBA and showed them the film clips and we’ll let them handle it from there.”