WHILE ruing his team’s failure to protect a huge lead, NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez felt there were other factors that cost the Road Warriors the PBA Commissioner’s quarterfinal series against Meralco on Sunday night.
“It’s a painful loss,” Fernandez said after emerging from the dugout more than an hour after the 91-85 overtime loss to the Bolts. “We were up so much, but credit to the Bolts; they came back.”
The Road Warriors looked poised to extend the best-of-three series after building a 20-point lead in the third quarter, but saw the Bolts rally from a 20-point deficit and steal the game in extra session.
“But I will not take away the credit from my boys. They really played well tonight,” Fernandez said. “I will not even blame somebody. I’ll take the (blame for the) loss.”
However, Fernandez said he hopes league commissioner Chito Salud reviews the match.
“I watched my players after the game and they were crying, not because we lost that game, but (because) we were robbed,” Fernandez said.
“It’s not Meralco. We were robbed by somebody else,” he added, obviously referring to the game officials. “But I know the commissioner knows those people who robbed the game from us.”
Fernandez complained at the referees a handful of times at the height of Meralco's comeback. Even after the match, the multi-titled mentor was still hot under the collar as he made his way to the dugout.
“I’ll just cross my fingers that commissioner will watch the game,” said Fernandez, who witnesses said figured in an argument with a top league official at the end of the contest.
Still, Fernandez said he was proud of his team’s effort this conference, where they were once mired in 10th spot before finishing the eliminations clinching the fourth spot.
“We’ll take the achievement we had and we’ll learn from this.”