Hours before the Talk ‘N Text-Rain or Shine Game 7, I blogged: Yeng Guiao will push his gritty boys to gain a big lead from the get go tonight because he is well aware of how things are done in the PBA Commissioner’s Office.
What I meant by that was RoS had to get a big lead early in the game to temper the referees’ bias in favor of TNT. If the game is close, the referees’ calls would go TNT’s way. And if a referee’s call would be elevated to the Commissioner’s Office for resolution, chances are the Commissioner’s decision would go against Yeng Guiao or his team.
There are many instances where the Commissioner has betrayed a bias against the colorful coach. The most glaring was what some observers call the “salamanka” that characterized the draw for the team that would have first pick in the 2014-15 rookie draft.
It will be recalled that the Commissioner placed the blocks representing the teams who would have the first three picks in the box. His hand remained in the box up to the time he drew the block representing the team who would pick first. When I saw that, I expected the team representatives in the draw to protest. For it is like placing a raffle ticket in a tambiolo and without letting go of the ticket, the same hand draws the winning ticket.
The Commissioner announced the sequence of the draw, Batang Pier first, RoS second, before anybody could holler: “Protest!” Yeng subsequently expressed his misgivings about the dubious draw. The draw was not redone, the Commissioner merely apologized for his “mistake.”
Yeng has been fined stiffly for his comments on referees. TNT team owner MVPangilinan and Coach Jong Uichico said something “you can’t win with that kind of officiating” in reference to their loss to Purefoods in the Philippine Cup. No fine was handed them.
Going back to the TNT-RoS championship game, it was TNT that built a big lead early in the game. But when RoS caught up in the 4th Quarter, the referees’ whistles became mute in favor of TNT. Ranidel de Ocampo hit Jonathan Uyloan in the solar plexus with a closed fist, causing Uyloan to fall to the floor. In a scramble for a loose ball Ivan Johnson elbowed Paul Lee in the neck. Both incidents were visible to the referees and the crowd as the players were isolated when they happened. No call was made. The replays showed the dirty plays clearly. Ivan ran again into Yeng, although that one being deliberate is debatable.
The referees’ missed calls were not elevated to the Commissioner’s Office. I can only think it is because the referees’ non-calls favored TNT. All three referees should have seen Ivan’s cheap shot as they should have been watching the action since both players were going after the ball. Ivan’s elbowing Paul was a second motion and should have merited a technical foul. That would have been the second in the game for Ivan, which would have meant banishment from the playing court.
As of this writing (day after the game), no fine has been imposed on Ranidel or Ivan by the Commissioner. It will be recalled that days after the RoS-Ginebra game, Beau Belga was fined heavily by the Commissioner for falling deliberately on Emman Monfort and for pinning Mark Caguioa to the floor after scrambles for the play. No suspension of any of the referees has so far been meted. Remember, a referee was suspended for the rest of the season by the Commissioner for not calling a shot clock violation (allowing Jeff Chan to steal the ball, drive to the basket and make the winning shot) in that game between RoS and Ginebra.