THE PBA acknowledged the lapse in officiating that marred Game 3 of the Philippine Cup finals between Magnolia and TnT.
Specifically, the league zeroed in on what has now become known as the ‘phantom foul’ made on Tropang Giga guard Brian Heruela while Paul Lee was attempting a shot from three-point range late in the second quarter of the game at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
A photo and subsequent video of the controversial sequence went viral on social media, which showed Heruela hardly touching a piece of Lee.
The 32-year-old Lee sank all three free throws awarded him, giving the Hotshots a 45-39 lead. Magnolia went on and win the game, 106-98, to cut TnT's lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.
“We made a wrong call. We admit that. No excuses,” said PBA deputy commissioner Eric Castro in a statement published in the PBA website.
“We have to move on and do a better job in the next games, plain and simple.”
The league was actually quick in sanctioning the offending official (Kenny Hallig) after he was immediately replaced during the game following the questionable call.
Commissioner Willie Marcial later scratched him out of the list of game officials for the rest of the title series.
“Admittedly, there was no contact,” acknowledged Bong Pascual, who is the head of PBA officials and a licensed-FIBA referee.
“But things like this happen. Referees are humans,” he added. “Magkakamali at magkakamali sila. But their mistakes don’t go unpunished.”
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