THE PBA Commissioner's Office admitted that the referees made a mistake in not calling a 24-second violation on Ginebra moments before a Jeff Chan layup clinched a 92-91 Rain or Shine victory on Saturday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
In a communication released to media outlets after a review of the critical play on Sunday, league officials established that Chan stripped the ball away from Ginebra import Michael Dunigan with only .2 of a second left in the shot block and 8.7 seconds left in the contest.
However, league rules stipulate that the 24-second shotclock will not cease to count down unless the opposing team has clearly established possession.
In this particular case, the league's technical committee established that the shotclock expired and play should have been stopped since Chan only established possession long after the 24-second clock had lapsed.
"When the ball was tapped away from the hands of Dunigan, this in itself did not constitute a loss of possession on the part of the offensive team and therefore did not stop the shot clock from counting down," the league said.
"For the 24-second shotclock to cease from counting down, clear and immediate control of the ball must be had by the defensive team either by containing the ball with the use of one or two hands and/or dribbling the ball twice if the containment was with the use of one hand or dribbling once if the containment was with the use of two hands."
Instead of stopping play, the referees, the league admitted, made the mistake of letting play proceed, allowing Chan to score the unmolested layup that proved to be the game-winner for Rain or Shine.
However, league technical consultant Perry Martinez had already pointed out to Spin.ph that the play involved a 'judgement call' on the part of the referees and therefore does not merit a change of the result regardless of the referees' error.
Still, the PBA said it is suspending the referee involved for the rest of the conference.
"While this incident demonstrates the difficulty in making judgement calls in real time and did not involve an error in technicality that is a ground for protest, disciplinary measures have been taken on the erring game official for a lapse in judgement which involved a call that was not reviewable and correctible under the rules during the game," the league said.