Game Sunday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
5 p.m. – Meralco vs Rain or Shine
(Rain or Shine leads series 1-0)
The PBA has suspended a referee for an officiating blunder during Rain or Shine’s 99-86 victory over Meralco at the start of their best-of-five semifinal series last Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Referee Art Herrera was suspended five game days by the league for “error in mechanics and judgment in changing a call” after nullifying a three-point shot of Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood that beat the shot clock buzzer at the midway point of the fourth quarter that saw the Elasto Painters holding an 87-80 lead.
Norwood’s triple was initially ruled good by Herrera, who even held his hands up to indicate that the ROS forward was able to release the ball in time.
But as Meralco was inbounding the ball, Bolts Coach Norman Black charged at the table officials and complained that the shot clock had already expired.
That was when Herrera and fellow referees Emy Tankion and Jun Marabe stopped the play.
After consulting with Tankion, Marabe and the table officials, Herrera reversed the call.
A video of the game, however, showed that Norwood was able to beat the clock.
Luckily, the call had little effect on the Elasto Painters, who later extended their lead to double figures.
ROS Coach Yeng Guiao, however, didn’t let that incident go without comment and during the postgame interview he called for improved officiating.
“If this game was close, that would have mattered a lot. We’re just thankful we had a good lead. They have to get themselves in one room and talk on how to improve the officiating,” Guiao said after the game.
The call came days after the league suspended one of the referees in Rain or Shine’s 92-91 victory over Ginebra in the quarterfinals last Saturday when the whistleblowers missed a shot clock violation on Ginebra in the dying seconds.
Instead, referees Peter Balao, Rey Yante and Rommel Gruta allowed the play to continue, enabling Rain or Shine’s Jeff Chan to score an uncontested layup with 4.9 seconds to go after stealing the ball from Ginebra import Mike Dunigan. The league didn’t reveal which of the three officials were sanctioned.
Asked about Tuesday’s slip-up, PBA technical consultant Perry Martinez said the referees made a mistake.
“It was a mistake,” Martinez said. “It’s not in the correctible errors, they cannot correct that. Also, the background of the 24-second shot clock is solely a judgment of refs, we have to work on premise.”
“Even if the shot clock buzzer sounded, pero kung walang pito ang mga referee, tuloy ang possession, tuloy ang takbo ng oras,” added Martinez, who also said that the referees can only review and correct a shot if it’s a three-pointer or two-pointer at the end of each period or inside the last two minutes.
“The 24-second shot clock is not one of those (in the correctible error).”
Raymond Yu, who co-owns ROS along with Terry Que, said that it was the first time he saw a play stopped to correct a call, which he believes would present a dangerous precedent.
“I’ve watched so many games, I think this is the first time that I’ve seen that the referees stopped a play to nullify a shot after the opposing team complained about it,” said Yu.