Let the commissioner decideBy Sev Sarmenta
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The race for slots in the UAAP men’s basketball Final Four has heated up exponentially with more down-the-wire games among the top contenders.
Last Saturday’s University of Santo Tomas-Ateneo battle, watched by close to 17,000 screaming fans at Mall of Asia Arena, was a cardiac affair decided only in the last 10 seconds.
The cliffhanger was won by the Blue Eagles when Ryan Buenafe’s layup was counted after a goal-tending violation by UST’s Karim Abdul. Buenafe was also fouled and scored the bonus charity for the final count, 68-66.
UST put the game under protest because it believed that there was no goal-tending violation and asked why there was no technical foul slapped against Ateneo coach Norman Black for entering the playing court after a perceived no-call in a previous play.
How does the process of protests go? Inquirer UAAP reporter Jasmine W. Payo explains:
“When a team files a protest, it goes to the commissioner for resolution. Any appeal to the decision goes to the technical committee composed of school board members. The technical committee makes the recommendation to the UAAP Board en banc, whether to uphold or overturn the commissioner’s decision. The board’s decision is final.”
The UST protest comes on the heels of the UAAP technical committee’s overturn of the recommendation of the basketball commissioner that the buzzer-beater of Far Eastern U’s RR Garcia against National U be counted.
The committee declared that there was no conclusive evidence in the game video that the ball did leave Garcia’s hand in time. The game, which could determine positions in the Final Four, has been ordered to be replayed.
There is no question that the UAAP selects experienced basketball men to run the tournament. The present commissioner, Ato Badolato, is a champion coach who steered the San Beda junior teams to many NCAA titles.
TV Analyst and current Rain or Shine consultant Andy Jao was last year’s commissioner while former national coach Joe Lipa has also sat in the seat several times.
But the commissioner’s office is, in a way, more of a recommendatory body in case of game protests and that if the case is appealed, decisions can be upheld or overturned by the technical committee and later by the board.
The logic of the process seems to enforce a check and balance so that the league can still decide on game protests. It should be intriguing to find out how the entire process will affect UST’s final position in the semifinals should its protest go the full route.
From a purely video standpoint, I sensed that Garcia’s basket should not count and saw a goal-tending violation on Buenafe’s attempt against Abdul.
The UAAP commissioner’s office should, in time, be allowed to decide with finality on game situations and protests to strengthen the impartiality angle of the tournament.
School communities may disagree vehemently with the commissioner’s decisions but they are still calls made by an office that has no affiliation with any of the participating schools.
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