PBA commissioner Chito Salud said the last Talk 'N Text-Rain or Shine title series was one of the most exciting in his tenure, insisting the result was 'never decided by the referees.'
Talk 'N Text won the franchise's seventh league championship - and first in two years - by beating Rain or Shine, 121-119, in the first Game Seven in pro league history to go to two extra periods.
The finale, however, was marred by complaints from fans and officials over several questionable calls, prompting Painters coach Yeng Guiao to call the game 'a classic example of poor officiating in the PBA.'
Responding to the criticism, Salud said the do-or-die match would not have gone to two overtimes if it was the referees who decided its outcome.
Each team also had a chance to win it in the end, the lawyer chieftain added.
“That (Game Seven) was a double overtime game. If the referees were a factor, do you think the game would have reached double overtime? Each team had a chance to win it,” Salud said.
Salud also explained that the physicality and rugged plays that marked the best-of-seven series was a by-product of the heightened emotions between two “highly-competitive” teams.
“That was one of the most exciting and emotional seven-game series I have seen, maybe the most emotional. And I think it’s the emotion that really drove the level of physicality to new heights,” said Salud, now in his fifth year as league commissioner.
“But in the end, you can see that while both teams wanted it (the PBA title), it’s unfortunate there could only be one winner,” he added.
“And let me say this, I think Rain or Shine, the way they performed in this series, you can compare that to the championship they won in terms of impact and magnitude.”
The PBA chieftain even heaped praise on Guiao for his leadership, which he said was the driving force behind Rain or Shine's rise into a perennial title contender.
The Elasto Painters, who won their only league championship in the 2012 Governors Cup, have now reached the finals four times over the last eight conferences.
“I’m very fortunate to have seen Rain or Shine compete at the highest level of consistently every conference, and that’s mainly due to the leadership of coach Yeng Guiao,” said Salud.
“I’m blessed with that because prior to that, di naman ganun kalakas ang Rain or Shine, and when I took over and coach Yeng took over, they won a championship, and they always managed to find themselves at least in the semis.”