THE PBA Commissioner's Office has stood its ground in the wake of the officiating controversy that marred Game Five of the Governors Cup Finals, telling Meralco officials the referees were right in not calling a traveling violation on Ginebra's Sol Mercado.
Ginebra took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series after a 92-81 win on Sunday night in a game marred by protests over a non-call in a play where Mercado fumbled the ball - and took four steps in the process - while bailing out on a drive as the clock ticked down to the final seconds.
Meralco coaches, players, officials and fans were left fuming by the non-call, with head coach Norman Black downright saying in his post-game interviews that there was no question that it was a traveling violation.
"It was an obvious travel," he told reporters emphatically.
However, the PBA stood behind its referees in the controversy, insisting that there was no traveling violation committed in the play when its technical officials met with Black and Meralco team manager Paolo Trillo for a review of Game Five on Monday afternoon at the league office.
According to sources, the technical officials pointed out that Mercado lost control of the ball during the play - and was therefore allowed under the rules to regain possession and regain his footing.
Meralco officials, the sources added, just couldn't buy the explanation.
Messages sent by SPIN.ph to Black have yet to be answered at posting time, but sources said the veteran coach was incredulous over the PBA's explanation.
Black, the sources added, pointed to two key points: one, a player is not allowed to pick up the ball after losing it; and two, Mercado took two more extra steps after regaining possession.