Tuesday, 18 September 2012 5,096 Views / 133 Comments
In the past weeks, a couple of protests have been raised in the realm of university and college basketball and, being a basketball fan like the rest of you, I was curious as to how the powers-that-be would treat the said protests.
Let’s go back to a couple of weeks. FEU played NU in a close, down-the-wire match. The game is tied with seconds to go, and FEU has the ball. They lose it! NU brings it up, but they lose it right back. RR Garcia sees a line to the basket, not his teammate Hargrove under it, and decides to go all the way in for the lay-up. He scores! FEU wins by two!! No…wait…was the basket in time? The referees review the tape. They review again…and again…and again… Replays of varying speeds are shown on TV about twenty times, from different angles, but nothing is conclusive. After what seemed like ages, the referees say the shot is counted. FEU wins it.
NU places the result under protest, saying the shot should not have counted. Our friend Boyet Sison asked me about what I thought of the game, and I said that I don’t know if the referees were right to say the shot was counted, but I stated that if the tape couldn’t conclusively show if it was, and the referees’ judgment said to count the basket, then their call should stand - http://anc.abs-cbnnews.com/videos/2175/nu-places-feus-buzzer-beating-win-under-protest. I also said that if the shot would not be counted, then there should only be a five minute overtime played, and not the whole game. Clearly, the score would be tied at the end of regulation if the shot was not counted.
UAAP Commissioner Ato Badolato had the task of deciding whether the referees made the right call. He said they did and threw out the protest. But, NU, the host school for this season’s UAAP, could not accept the decision. They elevated the matter to the UAAP Board, which overturned Badolato and ordered a rematch of the whole game. Yes, people, the whole game. FEU and NU will go at it again this coming Sunday, the 23rd of September.
I and many others felt that the decision of the Board to overturn Commissioner Ato was the wrong one. The video review was instituted to aid the referees in making a call. If there is a lack of conclusive video to so aid the referees, then they should make a judgment call, the old-fashioned way, the way it’s always been. In the game in question, the referees ruled that the shot counted. That should have been it. What went on in the UAAP Boardroom, we will never really know for sure. Badolato was disregarded and his judgment on the referees’ judgment was discarded. I felt he should have resigned right then and there, being practically reduced to a figurehead commissioner who was greatly disrespected. What I and many others thought did not matter though, as the “replay” (it’s not a replay as we know it since it’s a new game altogether) will push through whether we like it or not.
Badolato, of course, did not resign and, just a couple of days ago, was again tasked with deciding another protest. This time, UST protested their close loss to ADMU, particularly questioning a goaltending call on their big man Abdul, which would have taken away a basket from ADMU (UST lost by only two points) and the lack of a technical foul called on Coach Norman Black for stepping into the court, which is supposed to merit an automatic technical. A technical foul in the UAAP can be game-changing, especially in a close game, since two shots are awarded together with ball possession.
I think the goaltending call was fair. There is not much argument on that. Now, with regard to the technical foul for a coach stepping onto the court, going past the sideline, I am not so sure. Badolato decided yesterday to deny the protest of UST, saying that both calls were judgment calls, much the same way he branded the referees’ counting of Garcia’s shot against NU mentioned above. UST, particularly Coach Pido Jarencio, does not agree that the failure to call a technical foul on Black was a judgment call. I tend to agree with that. If the rule says that if a coach walks onto the court past the sideline, a technical foul is merited, then the referees do not have any judgment in that instance. If Black indeed entered the court (the first question to ask), then they should have called it. But they didn’t. Would it have changed the result of the game if they did? That is another question altogether. UST would still have had to hit the free throws, hold on to their lead, etc.
UST has the option of elevate the matter to the UAAP Board the way NU did two weeks ago. I wonder how the Board will treat this protest and the denial thereof by Badolato. The issue is quite different, especially with regard to the technical foul non-call. Coach Pido already said that it was not his decision but if it was, he would surely elevate. He believes that a call based on technicality is very different from a judgment call.
At this point, we fans have to just wait and see how this turns out. Hopefully though, the Board can clear everything up for the teams involved, as well as the other teams in the league, and most especially for the fans of the league who hate getting caught up in games outside the hardcourt.
The NCAA is also no stranger to protests. Just yesterday, Mapua beat Perpetual in a tightly-contested game. Perpetual Coach Aric del Rosario was seen clapping his hands after the final buzzer sounded, but he seemed to do it more to mock the outcome than to genuinely applaud it. We learned shortly thereafter that Perpetual was mulling to place the game under protest due to what it felt was poor and faulty officiating, especially in the endgame. Should this push through, fans will once again need to await results of basketball games away from the arena. I watched the game and feel that any protest Perpetual files will not prosper. Again, though, we all must wait and see how things turn out.
Protests are not all bad. In fact, many times, they are necessary, especially when the very integrity of the league concerned is at stake. However, leagues must have set rules, guidelines to follow in certain situations, which must be followed to the letter. Judgment calls in basketball are called such because a certain level of discretion has to be given to the referees, who see things from different angles in real time, while running up and down the court, with players in constant motion. What are judgment calls and what aren’t are clear cut. On the other hand, referees should not hide behind the “judgment call curtain” to defend lousy calls. They need to shape up and be more decisive and consistent (in making the right call!). As for league commissioners, they must have a high level of independence in decision-making and be respected in their verdicts. Time and again it has been said, “Let the games be decided by the players on the hardcourt, not by the referees, or by league officials in the boardroom.”