SHOULD a 24-second shotclock violation have been called before Rain or Shine hero Jeff Chan stripped Ginebra import Michael Dunigan of possession in the dying seconds of their PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals match on Saturday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The steal led to the marginal basket in Rain or Shine’s gripping 92-91 win that ended Ginebra's title hopes.
Videos and pictures posted by netizens clearly show the red light behind the backboard lighting up and a table official flashing a 24-second violation board during the play.
But the question was, why didn’t the referees call a halt to the game?
To clear the air, Spin.ph asked PBA technical consultant Perry Martinez who explained that the 24-second buzzer indeed sounded during the play, but it doesn’t necesarrily mean the referees should stop the play.
Simply put, it's still the referees' call on whether to halt play or not, Martinez said.
“Tumunog ang buzzer, under the guidelines, pwedeng i-overrule yung buzzer ng table ng mga referees dahil 'yung aspeto na 'yun, judgment call ng mga referees 'yun,” explained Martinez.
“Halos sabay 'yun kasi eh. Halos sabay ang buzzer at pagsundot ni Jeff Chan sa bola, so the referees decided to let that go. Unfortunately for Ginebra, nakuha ng Rain or Shine ang bola and they went for the basket,” he added.
Martinez stressed that he did not see any mistake in the interpretation of the rules from the referees when they decided to let the play continue, resulting in a layup for Chan that decided the quarterfinal playoff.
“Either way pwedeng depensahan 'yan technically. Kung tinigil ng referees ang laro at tumawag ng 24-second violation sa Ginebra, madedepensahan mo rin 'yung desisyon,” he said.
“Split second kasi ang lahat. Masyadong mabilis. And the referees relied on real-time decision making, unlike most of us na nagba-base na sa replay and slow mo,” he said. “Yan ang element of a basketball game.
“But at the end of the day, with those two events, judgment call 'yan ni referee.”
See a video of the play and the full interview with Martinez and Jeff Chan:
Some netizens also contend that Chan was standing out of bounds when he stripped the ball from Dunigan. Asked about the supposed violation, Martinez said they will also look into it in a review to be led by Commissioner Chito Salud on Sunday afternoon at the PBA office.
“We will look into that. Pero again that’s judgment call by the referees,” he said. “Kahit galing siya sa labas, kung nakapag-establish na siya ng posisyon inside the court, ibig sabihin dalawang paa, anytime kahit sandal pa lang basta dalawang paa, good 'yun.
“Hindi isyu 'yung galing siya sa labas, pero I will look at it.”
Martinez also stressed that the result of the review will no longer have an effect on the outcome of the game and will only used as basis on whether sanctions should be meted on referees or not.
“If ever, may mali. Pero again, judgment call 'yun. Pero at the end of the day, these judgment calls, sa referees yun,” he said. “Subject to review lahat 'yun. Pero we will make sure na mapaparusahan ang mga dapat maparusahan … kung talagang may mga pagkakamali.”
After reviewing the tape of the play shortly after the game, Martinez reached the conclusion that there was still much time left in the shot clock between the moment Chan tapped the ball away from Dunigan and the time he picked it up for a fastbreak play.
“Between sa sundot ni Jeff Chan ng bola at dun sa pagkuha niya nito, may natitira pang oras,” said Martinez, who insisted that 24-second violation is not subject for video review like out of bounds plays.
“It’s unfortunate for Ginebra, it’s fortunate for Rain or Shine. But if you are to look at it on the technical perspective, either way you can defend it. In real time, the referees are banking on the buzzer.
“Please understand, possession doesn’t mean hawak. Dribble is possession.”
Chan declared that he didn’t hear any whistle from the referees telling him to stop, which prompted him to go on and complete the fastbreak play.
“Walang pumigil sa akin, kaya tuloy-tuloy ako. Alam ko na patapos na 'yung shot clock nila, pero hindi ko alam na nag expire na (that time),” said Chan. “Pero sa akin naman kung pinigilan ako at pinituhan bago ako naka-layup, kung 'yun ang kaso ha."
Chan bared that everything went so fast during that fateful moment.
“Ang bilis ng pangyayari eh. Natapik ko eh kaya siguro akala nila (referees) parang live ball eh minsan kasi let go sa kanila 'yun pag natapik. Buti sana kung nasa kamay pa ni Dunigan. Pero hindi ko rin alam kasi kung ano talaga nangyari,” he said.
“Crucial talaga 'yung punto na 'yun, kasi lamang sila (Ginebra) nun eh. Yun ang nagpalamang sa amin,” added the Gilas Pilipinas forward.
The sweet-shooting former Far Eastern University Tamaraw also bared the deafening roar from the crowd that made any communication from game officials impossible to hear.
“Masyado nang maingay noon 'yung crowd eh. Dying seconds na kasi 'yun eh. Hindi kami magkarinigan talaga. Kahit nung nag timeout sila (Ginebra) nung na-shoot ko, hindi ko na rin narinig eh,” he said.
Meanwhile, Martinez bared how Salud conducted an investigation on the matter immediately after the game.
“Hindi ko lang alam kay Commissioner (kung isa-summon niya yung mga referees), pero tinanong nya ako last night at 'yun rin ang sinabi ko sa inyo ang sinabi ko sa kanya. So I don’t know what the actions of the commissioner will be,” said Martinez.