MANILA, Philippines – A controversial non-call marred Game 5 of the 2016 PBA Governors' Cup Finals, which saw Barangay Ginebra surge past the Meralco Bolts, 92-81, and take a 3-2 series lead on Sunday, October 16.
Gin Kings guard Sol Mercado committed what appeared to be a traveling violation in the final minute of what became a tight contest. But no call was made by the referees and it resulted in the dagger 3-pointer by rookie Scottie Thompson.
Head coaches Tim Cone and Norman Black weighed in on the non-call with Cone saying it was part of the game.
“We don't have anything to apologize for. I've had so many bad calls and in the last two conferences we got knocked out by what we considered bad calls,” Cone told the press. “We have nothing to apologize for. This is part of the game, it happens.”
Meanwhile, Black shared how one referee specifically insisted it was not a travel.
“I thought it was an obvious travel until the referee came over to me and told me it wasn't a travel,” Black explained. “It's exactly what he said to me, ‘it's not a travel.’ And I just went ballistic because I don't understand how two people can see the same play and see it totally different.”
Mercado brought the ball up the court with the Gin Kings up by only 87-81 with a minute to go and ended up taking 4 steps without dribbling the ball as he came to a stop. It takes only 3 steps to be called for a travel.
The Bolts on the floor, including Jimmy Alapag who defended Mercado in that play, immediately all motioned for a traveling violation but the whistle did not blow.
“It appeared to be a travel to me. But the referees are the police of the game. They get the last say,” said Black, a Grand Slam and 8-time champion coach. “There's not much I can do about it except to review it and make sure it was a travel and if it was to let the PBA office know about it.”
Black, who has steered Meralco to its franchise-first finals appearance, was seen livid on the sidelines as the play was replayed on the big screen.
“I intend to go watch it again to make sure that what I saw in the big screen was correct and I'll just take it from there after that,” Black said when asked about the team’s next course of action.
Cone, for his part, cited a separate instance in the game where he felt there was also a non-call.
“We were up by 6 points at the time (of Mercado's travel). We were still leading. So did it change the game? I thought there was a play earlier where (Allen) Durham got caught on an obvious push on Justin (Brownlee) underneath the basket. Justin would've had the ball and got it back in and he (Durham) pushed him out of the play. I called timeout. That's part of the game.”
The two-time Grand Slam and winningest PBA coach explained the nature of getting favorable or unfavorable crucial calls during a game.
He expects he may get the short end of the stick next time around in Game 6 on Wednesday, October 19, as Meralco tries to force a Game 7.
“It’s been a fairly good-refereed series. Not a lot of fouls called. We were both trying really hard not to foul and put teams on the line. I think that's the way we both coach. We don't like to foul, we don't like to put people at the line,” said Cone, whose team was 4-of-9 from the free throw line in Game 5. Meralco was 13-of-20.
“But the team that's winning is always going to be happy about the refereeing, and the team that's losing is going to be unhappy about refereeing. That's the nature of refereeing. I'm sure I'm going to be angry on Wednesday. It'll be my turn.” – Rappler.com