Intriguing action of PBA Commissioner Salud

Here is an extremely intriguing action taken by PBA Commissioner Chito Salud. Last Saturday he suspended a referee for the remainder of the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup after missing a crucial call in the final seconds of the quarterfinals game between Rain or Shine and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

In a statement released on Sunday, Salud said that upon review, a 24-second shot clock violation should have been called with 8.7 seconds left on the game clock. Had the whistle been blown it would have prevented a breakaway layup by the Elasto Painters’ Jeff Chan with 4.6 ticks left that proved to be the game-winning basket.

“A closer look at the play shows that Jeff Chan tapped the ball from Michael Dunigan with .2 second left on the shot clock,” the PBA said in a statement.

“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.

“A closer look at the slow motion replay reveals that Jeff Chan did not have clear and immediate control of the ball after the tap at which time a 24-second violation should have been called by the referees,” the PBA explained.

“Jeff Chan only had clear and immediate control of the ball with his second dribble after the 24 second shot clock had already expired.”

The PBA further explained the rules regarding the shot clock violation.

“For the 24 second shot clock 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.”

Chan’s wide open breakaway lay-up put the Painters on top for good, 92-91, eliminating the Gin Kings from the playoffs.

What is extremely intriguing about Salud’s drastic action is that Ginebra never protested the game. Coach Ato Agustin and the five Ginebra payers on the court did not even complain about the non-call. They deemed it a judgment call. Judgment calls are not reviewable and reversible.

It must have been the judgment of the referee that Chan had control of the ball as he tapped the ball and bounced it within split seconds. The referee must have considered it tantamount to dribbling the ball twice. Besides, no opposing player was near enough to contest possession of the ball.

Ginebra still had a chance to win the game. Right after Jeff Chan had scored, Agustin sued for time. He did not confront the referees. Instead he immediately sat down with his players to design a play. The play was executed but Jayjay Helterbrand failed to score.

But Commissioner Salud must have been enraged to mete out a severe punishment on the erring referee. Was it because it was the crowd’s favorite Ginebra that was at the short end of the controversial play? Compounding the loss was the elimination of Ginebra from the semifinals of the Commissioner’s Cup. Is Salud infuriated by the non-call because the absence of Ginebra in the semifinals would mean smaller gate receipts? Or is it because he is a rabid fan of Ginebra? Or does he hate Yeng Guiao and his RoS boys so much? Remember, in the last rookie draft, he didn’t take out his hand from the lottery box. Guiao hinted manipulation of the first two picks, depriving RoS of the chance of picking first.

In last Sunday game between Meralco and NLEX, the ref nullified a 3-point shot by Damion James because of a supposed 3-second violation by Asi Taulava. The NLEX players on the bench jumped to their feet and NLEX Coach Boyet Fernandez rushed to the court with arms raised in protest over the referee’s “not counted” call. When the play was replayed, game play-by-play announcer Magoo Marjan said that the ball had left the hand of James before the referee, who was focused on Taulava, blew his whistle on Taulava’s infraction. The replay also showed that Reynel Hugnatan was holding Taulava to keep him inside the 3-second zone. Had James 3-point shot been counted, the game would have ended in regulation period with NLEX on top by 3 points, instead of a tie. Meralco won in overtime, also eliminating NLEX from the semifinals.

Fernandez was looking at the referees and clapping his hands in obvious mockery of the referees. No, he did not file a protest. After all, that was sister team Meralco involved. But let’s see if Salud would order a review of the controversial call. If he does not, that means NLEX is expendable to him. After all Meralco is the older and more colorful sister between the two Pangilinan teams.

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