LEO Austria is giving veteran Jireh Ibanes the benefit of the doubt, but insisted there should have been a foul called on the Rain or Shine player following the injury suffered by San Miguel big man June Mar Fajardo in Game Six of the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup semifinals on Friday night.
Austria said it was obvious Ibanes extended his knee as he tried to box out the 6-foot-10 Fajardo during a rebound play in the third quarter of the match which the Beermen won, 90-82, to make the finals of the season-opening conference.
The bump caused Fajardo to hyperextend his knee crumple on the floor in obvious pain while holding on to his left knee. He was later wheeled out of the playing venue on a stretcher and never returned again.
“Based on the video na nakita natin, meron (foul). Kitang kita naman natin 'yung kanyang (Ibanes) tuhod,” said Austria in his post game interview.
“I hope it’s not intentional, but what I saw on the reply, kung nakita nila (referees) yun, dapat may foul.”
The San Miguel mentor stressed had a foul had been called, Ibanes should have been charged with a flagrant foul.
“Flagrant dapat yun. Look at what happened to Marcio and Jericho (Cruz). It was an ordinary foul, but they called it a flagrant because nasaktan siya (Jericho),” said Austria, recalling the endgame incident in Game Three when Cruz also left the Big Dome on a stretcher following a bump committed by Marcio Lassiter, who was whistled for a flagrant foul.
“Yung kay June Mar, wala pa ngang tinawag.”
In the same breath, Austria said playing dirty has no place in basketball.
“I’m very vocal about clean basketball dahil I want to see the beauty of basketball, the talent of the players,” he said. “I want to see the dunks of the players, the beautiful lay-up.
“I know the role of the players. As much as possible they want to win, whether makasakit sila o hindi.”
Asked if he believes the incident between Ibanes and Fajardo could be considered as such, the champion coach would rather leave it to the media – and public – if it was indeed, dirty.
“Kayo na ang mag-decide nun. I don’t want to comment about it,” he said.