Is Maierhofer's 'shoe-palpal' attempt against Espinas legal? PBA official gives take
Barako Bull forward Rico Maierhofer gets an extension as he tries to block a shot by SMB's Gabby Espinas using his shoe. Jerome Ascano 

A HILARIOUS scene unfolded during a PBA game on Wednesday when a desperate Rico Maierhofer of Barako Bull tried to block a shot by San Miguel Beer's Gabby Espinas with the help of a shoe.

The incident made quite a splash on social media sites shortly after it happened in the first half of the Beermen's 116-113 victory, with one witty tweep immediately dubbing it the 'Shoe-palpal' scandal.

Funny as it was, it still got us thinking: Was it legal?

They Said It!

Kaya n Lebron James?? Hindi. Only in the Philippines."  Louie Omay

We asked PBA operations director Rickie B. Santos, who said Maierhofer’s strange defensive strategy could have merited a technical foul since he used a “foreign object” in a live play.

Without the benefit of looking at a league rule book, Santos explained that such a move was unprecedented in the PBA’s 40-year existence though game officials should probably have taken notice of it.

“Dapat, hindi puwede 'yun (using a shoe to try to block a shot), kasi using a foreign object iyun,” Santos told on Wednesday during a break in play at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“It could merit a technical foul, but then, that I have to check sa rule book ng PBA.”

The strange play started when 6-foot-4 Maierhofer accidentally lost his right shoe while driving to the basket. Play wasn’t halted as San Miguel tried to go for a fastbreak.

Espinas managed to elude Barako Bull import Liam McMorrow but found his lane blocked by Maierhofer, who used his shoe to force the San Miguel forward to a turnover, leading to a fastbreak layup on the other end by Joseph Yeo.

Former PBA referee Tom Urbano said Maierhofer’s queer defensive stop shouldn’t have been necessary had the referees halted the play.

“Ngayon lang nangyari 'yung ganun na pinang-block ang sapatos,” said Urbano, who was at Big Dome to support Alaska, with whom he served as team staffer from 1986 to 2013.

Players who lost a shoe accidentally are allowed to recover during a dead ball situation, he added.

“Yung pasuotin mo ang sapatos, one of the options iyan, pero yung dalhin mo 'yun sa kabila at ipang-depensa mo, dapat stop na agad 'yun. Puwedeng ma-technical pa 'yun kasi binitbit niya 'yung sapatos eh tapos pinag-depensa niya,” explained the 74-year-old Urbano, who served as a PBA referee from 1979 to 1986.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava