Fernandez says NLEX was 'robbed' in quarterfinals loss to Meralco
MANILA, Philippines — NLEX head coach Boyet Fernandez watched his players succumb to tears following their 91-85 overtime loss to semifinals-bound Meralco on Sunday, March 29 in the 2015 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
The prevailing sentiment, he said, was the team felt they were "robbed" of the win that could have extended the best-of-3 series to a decider.
"It's so painful. I watched my players after the game and they were crying. Not because we lost that game but (because) we were robbed. We were robbed by somebody else," he said, emerging from the locker room more than an hour after the game ended.
"It's not Meralco. But I know the commissioner knows that, those people who robbed that game from us."
NLEX blew a 20-point lead over Meralco and crumbled in overtime to kiss their shot for a semis stint goodbye. The Road Warriors had several chances to secure the victory towards the end of regulation, including the final possession, but failed to execute.
Fernandez, a two-time NCAA champion coach with reigning 5-peat title holders San Beda College, hopes PBA Commissioner Salud will review the game tape, most likely implying that officiating is the culprit that "robbed" them.
Salud looked over the controversial endgame missed call in the quarterfinals match between Rain or Shine and Ginebra and suspended a referee, even though the Gin Kings did not file for protest.
"Probably, hopefully, I'll just cross my fingers, that the commissioner will watch the tape," said Fernandez, who is also a 6-time PBA D-League champion. "I will not even blame somebody for this loss. I'll take the loss."
"I'll take that blame but I hope the commissioner will just see the tape," he reiterated.
Tough though the loss was, Fernandez remained proud of his team, who improved from a 10th place finish in the Philippine Cup to a 4th seed this conference.
"Credit to the Bolts, but I will not take away the credit to my boys, they played well. They stuck to the game plan and I told my players you don't have to be ashamed of yourselves," he said.
"We'll learn from this. We'll take that achievement we had in this conference. People didn't expect us to be number 4. I will not take away the achievement my players had done."
For the season-ending Governors' Cup, Fernandez said they are eyeing to bring in an import who is of similar mold to the explosive Al Thornton.
As one of the top 8 teams in the combined standings since the first conference, NLEX is allowed an import with a 6-foot-5 height limit.
Like most of the other teams, NLEX is also looking to capitalize on the option to hire an Asian import.
He said they are looking at getting a 6-foot-3 reinforcement from the Middle East. Fernandez is set to plan with management this week and negotiate with players.
The team is eager to bounce back next conference armed with more experience.
"We improved a little bit on our defense and offense," Fernandez said, "so hopefully we'll take this positivity and looked forward to the third conference." — Rappler.com