THE PBA Commissioner’s Office on Saturday assured that it is doing everything “humanly possible” to improve officiating, but insisted the pro game has become so fast and the players so athletic that miscalls have become inevitable.
Commissioner Chito Salud made the assurance in the wake of the uproar over a late refereeing blunder that Talk ‘N Text felt cost it the game against Alaska, 94-92, on Friday night – the third controversial late-game call in the month-long season and the second to cost a team a win.
Salud acted swiftly after the blunder, suspending referee Rey Yante for six playdates for his “erroneous judgment” in calling a goaltending violation on Kelly Williams with the Texters up by two points, 92-90, and just seconds left in the clock in the Alaska match.
Replays clearly established that the ball was neither on a downward trajectory or had hit the backboard when Williams blocked Cyrus Baguio’s shot.
Instead of Talk ‘N Text being up by two points with ball possession and the clock down to its last 30 seconds, Alaska ended up tying the score because of the miscall before winning the game on JVee Casio’s layup off Williams with three seconds remaining.
“The game has become so fast and the players so athletic that there will be miscalls from time to time,” Salud said in a statement. “As much as the PBA is doing its best to avoid these errors, this is one of them.”
Contacted by Spin.ph on Saturday, Salud assured that the league is “doing something” to avoid the spate of miscalls in the young season.
“As humanly possible, we are trying to avoid a missed call during the game. And we are assuring the public that we are doing something about it (officiating),” Salud told Spin.ph, adding the league’s technical officials are reviewing game tapes “with or without complaints from teams.”
He added, “Whatever mistake (made) was not meant to side with one team.”
His assurance, however, has hardly appeased Talk ‘N Text officials who felt the call had robbed the team of a win – the same feeling Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao had when the referees called a foul on Gabe Norwood late in a 94-98 loss to Ginebra on October 7.
Texters team manager Aboy Castro said: “That call was a game-changer. The implication of that mistake was short of taking the game away from us. Maling-mali talaga ang tawag. But we understand it’s a very hard call to make.”
Castro said it’s high time the league expand the scope of what it considers “reviewable calls” in the endgame. Currently, the league only reviews plays involving last-second shots and out-of-bounds disputes in the endgame.
Talk ‘N Text head coach Norman Black took a more practical approach, although he admitted that they were not happy with the call at all.
“We’re not happy with the call especially since it came at a crucial part of the game. So for us, if you lose, the only thing to focus now is to bounce back. The PBA is a long season so we’d rather focus on preparing for our next game against Petron,” Black said.