Public outcry

SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson

There’s a video that was posted on YouTube the other day showing several instances where Adamson got away with no-calls in clear contact situations during the La Salle semifinal game in the UAAP at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Saturday. No need to elaborate on the video but to put the issue to rest, it’s safe to conclude that the game could’ve been officiated better and both sides took it on the chin. The question is – did the referees decide the outcome or not?

UAAP commissioner Rebo Saguisag said a “seeming public outcry” has prompted him to review the game closely and put the referees who worked the contest in preventive suspension. For Adamson, Saguisag’s pronouncements were a moral victory because the commissioner himself has now put to doubt the capability of the referees in question. Although La Salle was also hurt by poor officiating, Adamson can claim it was hurt more because the Falcons lost, 82-75. 

Adamson said the Falcons were robbed of victory and it was unfair to their players who practiced and worked so hard. What made Adamson’s protest more painful to La Salle was head coach Franz Pumaren and assistants Tonichi Yturri, RenRen Ritualo and Don Allado are all La Salle products. Adamson said its protest was for the good of the league moving forward and was not motivated by the hope of a replay.

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If Adamson said the Falcons practiced and worked so hard, what about the Archers? Didn’t they also practice hard and even work harder in the game because La Salle came down from 15 points in the third period and nine starting the fourth to win? Personally, I’m quite sad that instead of recognizing the efforts of young men in refusing to lose and pushing themselves to the limit, some quarters choose to blame others for blowing what looked like a won game until a fourth quarter collapse.

Up to the third period, Adamson was in total control of the game. The Falcons shot 9-of-23 from beyond the arc, 39.1 percent, and had more fastbreak points, 14-2. Adamson pressed from the start and forced 18 turnovers on the Archers, 15 in the first half where the Falcons had 10. They paid a hefty price for it, however, and were called for 24 fouls against only 9 for La Salle. In the first three periods, La Salle hoisted 15 three-point shots and missed them all. There was a significant disparity in free throws as up to that point, La Salle hit 18-of-25 charities and Adamson, only 2-of-5. 

The disparity is explained by how both teams played. Adamson jacked up a lot of threes and had a big edge in fastbreak points while La Salle kept attacking inside with Ben Mbala drawing constant contact. La Salle backed off from fouling jumpshooters and the Falcons scoring on transition layups. The Archers also didn’t apply too much defensive pressure and coach Aldin Ayo admonished the team from slacking off at halftime. Ayo felt that because the Archers had a twice to beat advantage, they weren’t as determined as Adamson whose back was against the wall. 

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The video on YouTube singled out over 10 instances where the referees let go contact by Adamson, particularly on Mbala who is physically abused game after game. So Adamson could’ve easily been called for at least 10 more fouls. But that’s neither here nor there. The fact is nobody from Adamson complained of the disparity when the Falcons were up by 9 to start the fourth period. Then came Adamson’s collapse. Because the Falcons pressed from the start with no let-up, they gassed out in the end. Jerrick Ahanmisi, who hit 5-of-8 threes in the first three quarters, went cold and even threw up a corner triple that struck the side of the board. Robbie Manalang was 5-of-10 from beyond the arc in the first three periods then went 1-of-4 in the last 10 minutes like Ahanmisi. He clanked a wide open three late in the game. From shooting 39.1 percent, Adamson’s three point clip dropped to 15.4.  Ahanmisi and Manalang never went to the line because they took a combined 23 three-point shots compared to only 3 from two-point range.

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