THE PBA remained tightlipped on the culpability of the referees who let the play involving Rico Maierhofer’s controversial 'shoe-palpal' stunt go uncalled in the Barako Bull-San Miguel Governors’ Cup game on Wednesday.
Spin.ph's social media sites have been bombarded with questions from fans who felt that referees were more to blame for the non-call after Maierhofer used his shoe to try to block SMB forward Gabby Espinas’ shot in the first half of the Energy’s 116-113 loss.
Fans have been aghast that Maierhofer was meted a P20,000 penalty for his antic when it was the referees who, they thought, should’ve been fined after failing to stop the game with a technical foul.
League commissioner Chito Salud ruled that Maierhofer's 'shoe-palpal' antic was a 'blatant misconduct that disrespects/ mocks the game' and is 'unprofessional in nature.'
League officials had previously explained the non-call by the referees by saying there was no specific provision in the PBA rule book that covers the violation committed by Maierhofer.
However, Salud himself said in his decision penalizing Maierhofer that present league game rules are 'broad enough' to cover the bizarre play - and therefore could've been invoked by the referees in making a call during the game.
"While not among those specifically prohibited by existing rules, the said act can be considered to be in breach of the general conduct of games," said Salud.
"Hence, it can be classified as a technical foul for using a foreign object as an aid in performing an offensive or defensive move," he continued.
By failing to recognize that and letting the play go, coaches like Rain or Shine's Yeng Guiao felt the game officials made the PBA a 'laughingstock' in the world of basketball.
Salud was in a closed-door meeting with technical consultant Perry Martinez shortly after handing out the punishment on Maierhofer and declined interview requests later.
Fans also pointed out that violations similar to Maierhofer's that happened in other leagues like the NBA were punished, correctly they say, with technical fouls - and not by huge fines.
One such incident in the NBA involved Los Angeles Lakers guard Ronnie Price, who lost his shoe then threw it at Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala to stop a fastbreak attempt in a regular season game last year.
He was slapped with a technical foul in the play.
For similar plays, click on the links below: