INCOMING PBA chairman Ramon Segismundo made an appeal on behalf of the Meralco Bolts on Saturday, saying the Governors Cup Final Four's "new kinds on the block" deserve a fair shake in terms of officiating.
While Segismundo admits the Bolts still have to earn their spurs in the league, he stressed that doesn’t mean they should be at the losing end of the calls especially in the playoffs.
The current board vice chairman made the appeal a day after Meralco lost to San Mig, 87-94, in a highly-physical Game Three encounter Friday night at the Astrodome.
The Bolts are down in the best-of-five series, 1-2, and on the verge of elimination.
“As this is the first time we’re entering the Final Four and potentially the Finals, our consciousness is not on top of the referees’ minds,” the Meralco executive pointed out.
“We’re treated as new kids on the block. We just wanted to be treated as any other team," he added.
The Meralco executive pointed to the wide disparity in fouls called and free throws taken by both sides to back his view that the Bolts got the raw end of most of the calls in Game Three.
Meralco was whistled for 35 fouls as against the 19 of the Mixers. A wide discrepancy can also be seen on the number of free throws as San Mig took 41 shots from the charity line as against the 22 of the Bolts.
“The stats tell a story. Look at how many times San Mig went to the line and how many fouls were called,” Segismundo said. “A level playing field is key for the teams to really compete.”
“All series long, the Mixers have gone to the line 106 times or an average of 35.3 per game, while we only went 56 times or 18.6 per game,” he added.
Segismundo was also asked about the potential of Meralco to pull in the crowd considering Petron and San Mig Coffee, two of the most popular teams in the league, are on the verge of arranging a potentially blockbuster Finals.
The vice chairman responded: “In terms of ‘audio’ (crowd support), the level is the same (Friday night). I have not personally counted but I know there was a lot of support for Meralco Bolts.”
“If and when Meralco reaches the Finals, we’ll have our fair share of supporters and crowd draw,” he reiterated.
Meanwhile, Segismundo is also looking at the injury suffered by import Mario West as another factor on how his team can attract ‘sympathy’ support.
The high-scoring West limped out of the court in the third quarter of Game Three after sustaining a suspected shoulder injury which he suffered after absorbing a strong bump from San Mig defender Joe Devance.
“With or without Mario, we are not giving up. We know we can still pull the rug from under San Mig. I am just hoping that foul troubles won’t kill our chances,” Segismundo said.
“Filipinos love the underdogs and we (Bolts) will not die.”