MANILA, Philippines—The referees should let the players decide the outcome of the game.
That was the sentiment of Adamson coach Leo Austria after a controversial unsportsmanlike foul late in the game foiled Adamson’s comeback against La Salle, 67-70, on Wednesday.
“It’s very frustrating that kind of call. I don’t know what triggered the referee [to call that]. It was a great game, and the referees should let the players decide the outcome of the game,” Austria said.
“If he [the referee] is right, I’m sorry if I commented against him. If he’s wrong he should pay for that kind of loss to our team,” he also said.
Gian Abrigo, the sparkplug in the Falcons’ run from 15 down, was whistled for a foul as he was jockeying for position against Norbert Torres while they were down 67-65, and hoping to make a stop with 15.9 seconds left.
That awarded La Salle two crucial free throws plus the possession—which Torres did not waste as he canned three freebies for a 70-65 lead—that ultimately spelled the doom for Adamson.
According to the UAAP rule book, fouls committed during deadball situations in the last two minutes of the game will be assessed as unsportsmanlike.
But for the veteran shot caller, who was well aware of that rule, all he saw in that game-changing sequence were two players trying to secure a better stance.
“From the beginning it was a physical game, then you would call such foul late in the game,” a frustrated Austria told the reporters in Filipino shortly after the game.
“Was there a foul? What I saw was they were both jockeying for position eh. Of course, [Abrigo] will deny the recipient [of the ball]. But he didn’t push him or anything.”
Austria even went to on to say the whistle should’ve been on Torres.
“Eh kung may foul, eh di foul, eh hindi eh. Si Torres pa nga may foul eh sya nauna humawi dun sa kamay ni [Abrigo] eh,” Austria said.
Austria, though, was non-committal about filing an official protest.
“I don’t know. If there’s a technicality, if there’s bias in officiating, we will see. But if it’s a judgment call, I don’t think our protest would prosper [if we file].”
After a big win over National University last week, the Falcons still could not nab consecutive wins as they dropped to 3-3 after this loss.
“La Salle worked hard for the win, and we don’t blame them. They deserved it because we had a bad start. We fought back, and the sad thing is we didn’t get a good break down the stretch.”
When sought for comment after reviewing the play, league commissioner Chito Loyzaga just pointed to the rule book.
“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you don’t call that, the side of La Salle is going to get mad, if you call it, Adamson’s going to get mad,” Loyzaga said in Filipino.
“I didn’t make those rules and neither did the referees.”
But when asked whether it was the correct call, Loyzaga did not respond.