PBA to probe ‘luto’ claim against referee, Hugnatan denies accusation
SMART CLARK GIGA CITY — This extraordinary staging of the PBA’s Philippine Cup has featured a lot of surprises. And aside from the brilliance of a few, truly capable athletes, complaints—ranging from understandable to unnecessary—have also cropped up.
Commissioner Willie Marcial said on Monday that the league is looking into a malicious complaint lodged against a referee in the heat of the semifinals’ Game 3 between Barangay Ginebra and Meralco Sunday night.
A yet to be identified delegate said, “Ref, lutong luto ah! (Ref, the game’s obviously rigged!)” during a lull in the fourth period.
The allegation was heard on national television and has become the topic of many commenters swarming sports media and even the league’s websites.
“We’re about to open an investigation on the matter,” Marcial told reporters here over the phone. “We can’t just point people.”
“This must be corroborated by referees, our table officials, my staff, and even the video crew. And I have yet to hear from them,” he added.
A number of spectators online jumped on the Bolts’ veteran, Reynel Hugnatan, and tagged him as the culprit simply for being on the receiving end of a foul he went on to contest.
“That’s OK with me. I know the truth,” Hugnatan said in Filipino during a chance encounter near the hotel’s pool. “I can’t blame viewers, though. They were merely drawing from what they saw on television.”
Hugnatan said he was already aware of the unfair tagging since Sunday night, but insists he is unbothered by it.
“It just so happened that I was also seen on the video (feed) at the time where I was disputing a call,” the Bacolod native, whose accent is discernible up close, said.
“Why would I be bothered if it’s not true?”
“We can’t really tell who it is at this point,” said Marcial. “It really can be anybody at this point.”
“If it was someone like Tim Cone or Norman Black whose voices are distinct, then we could easily identify who it is.”
“But we still have (no leads),” he said. “I can’t pin it on Reynel since we don’t exact justice like that.”