San Miguel and Meralco emerged the top teams at the end of the elimination round of the Commissioner’s Cup. However, both teams were beaten by their respective opponents in their semifinal series – San Miguel by Rain or Shine, Meralco by Alaska. The last time a conference finals did not have a Cojuangco- or Pangilinan-owned team was in 2003 when Alaska and Coca-Cola (no longer owned by San Miguel Corporation then) played for the Invitational championship.
Many PBA fans believe that a Cojuangco or Pangilinan team has an edge when playing against a team not owned by either business mogul. This belief is based on the perception (rightly or wrongly) that referees favor a Cojuangco or Pangilinan team because of the tremendous influence they wield on the league operations. As they have three teams each, they each have three votes in the board of the PBA. Either magnate is a big factor when it comes to crucial decisions of the board, like the appointment of the Commissioner and therefor the fate of all staff members falling under his supervision. That includes the referees. The fans believe (again rightly or wrongly) that Mr. Cojuangco and Mr. Pangilinan can cause the dismissal of a referee if his calls do not please the businessman.
That is why in this coming championship series between Alaska and Rain or Shine, the suspicion that referees are favoring a team will be absent. The owners of Alaska and Rain or Shine have only one vote each in the decision-making process of the Board. Not only that, Mr. Fred Uytengsu, owner of Alaska, has been over the years critical of PBA policies and decisions while Mr. Yeng Guiao, coach of RoS, is the nemesis of referees and the Commissioner himself. They cannot be considered good friends of PBA officials, like Messrs. Cojuangco and Pangilinan.
Therefore, neither Alaska or RoS has an advantage when it comes to game officials and since they are evenly matched in terms of coaching staff and players, the Commissioner’s Cup Finals will be a well-watched series. Fans will accept the eventual winner as having won fairly and is deserving of the championship trophy.