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SMB fires back at Jong’s tirade

JONG UichicoA top official of San Miguel Beer yesterday lambasted Talk ‘N Text coach Jong Uichico saying his attack on officiating is “unfounded, unnecessary and unfair.” He said Uichico’s failings as a coach are to blame for TNT’s successive losses in the semifinal series and blaming the referees is a lame excuse.

In a rare counter-offensive, SMB representative to the PBA Board of Governors Robert Non minced no words in responding to Uichico’s tirade about bad officiating and said he wondered how the TNT mentor “would stoop so low with his insinuation about how the referees allegedly favored the San Miguel Beermen.”

San Miguel is leading the series, 2-0, the last game, an 87-81 win last Sunday, triggered Uichico’s outburst, insinuating that that these things happen when teams play against San Miguel.

“Let’s just hope the refs do a better job. Yeah (I’m disappointed), but it’s a given when you’re playing against the San Miguel group. I’ve been there,” Uichico said without explaining.

Non fired back, reminding how his team had taken previous setbacks sportingly.

“It is a pity that Talk ’N Text has resorted to unfounded, unnecessary and unfair complaints about the officiating, which I would say sort of maligning and has put into question the integrity of the PBA as an institution,” said Non.

“While San Miguel has been the subject of comments made by the Talk ’N Text, I am surprised that coach Jong Uichico would stoop so low with his insinuation about how the referees allegedly favored San Miguel Beermen.

“Normally, I would not respond to such accusations, but coming from Coach Jong Uichico, who was many-time champion coach from his previous teams and a national coach at that, I find his comments unbecoming of a coach of his stature,” he added.

Uichico was not alone in complaining about officiating and was joined by team owner Manny Pangilinan who echoed the TNT coach’s sentiments.

Pangilinan, also the owner of Meralco and NLEX teams in the PBA, said on his Twitter account @iammvp that “We can’t win these games with bad referee calls.”

Game 2 statistics showed Talk ’N Text was awarded 24 free throws but made just half of it while San Miguel Beer converted 25-of-28 attempts from the foul line with reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo perfect with 11-of-11.

During the game, 24 fouls were called against SMB and 26 on TNT.

According to Non, the Beermen won the first two games “fair and square” and if there is anyone to blame for TNT’s back-to-back defeats, it’s Uichico.

Uichico was coach of SMB from 1999-2006 and Barangay Ginebra from 2006-2012, winning a combined eight championships.

“Obviously it’s not the referees but their coach (Uichico), who seems at a loss on how his team was beaten twice. But finding solace in blaming the referees is a lame excuse,” said Non.

“He should know better that a game is won not by intimidating the officials but preparing your team well. Obviously he wasn’t able to do his part in that respect,” Non said.

The SMC official said that the SMC group did not complain of “unfair treatment” from the refs when Ginebra lost to TNT in their quarterfinal knockout game, or when Purefoods Star got the boot from twice-to-beat Meralco also in the quarterfinals.

“Talk ’N Text won several championships in the past and we never accused them of being favored by the referees,” said Non, who already called the attention of league commissioner Chito Salud to look into Uicico’s comment.