THE UAAP Commissioner’s Office is open to possible changes on rules related to the ploy of fouling a player away from play, a situation that marred the final minutes of the Season 78 Final Four match between National University and University of Santo Tomas on Sunday.
Desperate to climb out of a big deficit in the endgame, the Bulldogs time and again fouled Jon Sheriff away from play, in a calculated gamble that worked for a while as the UST point guard made just 4 of 12 free throws.
That, however, couldn't stop UST from posting a 64-55 win and reaching the UAAP Finals.
Commissioner Rebo Saguisag admitted the so-called ‘Hack-A-Sheriff’ strategy is not illegal, but at the same time, stressed that it’s nowhere stated that it is not allowed in the Fiba rules, which the collegiate league uses.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s a Fiba rule. The more accurate way to say it is hindi siya pinagbabawal,” said Saguisag. “Hindi mo rin masisi ‘yung naghahabol kasi hindi bawal.”
It was not the first time Sheriff became the target of the tactic this season, so much so the UST guard tried to elude being fouled during Sunday’s game so he won’t be forced to shoot free throws again.
Even league MVP Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo fell prey to the ploy as he tried running away from La Salle’s Jolo Go – with both hands raised – during the two teams’ second round encounter when he struggling making free throws.
While the Bulldogs did resort to the desperate measure, NU coach Eric Altamirano admitted he ‘hates’ the rule, saying the team was only forced to foul Sheriff in its desperate bid to mount a last-minute comeback.
“Honestly, not to take away from the decisions of the commissioner to put that in, but I really hate that rule,” Altamirano readily admitted.
“I don’t really usually do that. Ayoko ng ganun. But we had to kasi we were trailing and we were trying to catch up. It worked for a while but it’s really too big a lead,” he added.
Altamirano hopes the league will address the situation.
“There are rules na hindi maganda but I don’t want to dwell on that. I’m sure that the commissioner and even the UAAP board will try to evaluate everything. Parang pangit ata na tumatakbo ‘yung fina-foul mo,” said Altamirano.
Saguisag supports the move of reevaluating the rules allowing the controversial tactic by putting some sort of a house rule.
“Fouling ‘yung patintero, that should be addressed,” he said
Saguisag admitted there are already suggestions that an unsportsmanlike foul be called on the player who does a ‘Hack-A-Sheriff.’ But he admitted that option, too, may face complications.
“But the danger there is, for example, merong aggressive defender that was denying a star player and then nagkaroon ng foul. ‘Yun ba ay unsportsmanlike?” Saguisag said.
The UAAP is also considering taking the lead of the NBA where fouls away from the ball, a method once used against legendary big man Shaquille O’Neal – hence the term ‘Hack-A-Shaq - are no longer allowed in the last two minutes of the game.
Violations are punished with a technical foul.
“We are open to suggestions,” said Saguisag.