MANILA, Philippines – University of the East (UE) guard Roi Sumang told fans to simply watch the replay of the Red Warriors' game against the De La Salle Green Archers and decide for themselves if he was fouled on the final play.
Down 58-60 with just seconds to go in the final period, Sumang asked for a screen then drove baseline, rising for a short jump shot over La Salle guard Kib Montalbo.
His attempt barely drew iron, however, and La Salle center Norbert Torres secured the rebound, allowing the defending champions to register their second victory of the season.
Asked by reporters if he felt he was fouled in the last play, Sumang said: "Tingnan niyo na lang sa replay, pati sa referee siguro."
"Wala tayong magagawa, ganoon talaga," he added.
It can be argued, however, that the game shouldn't have had to go down to the final second; the Red Warriors led by 10 points entering the fourth quarter, and for the first three frames, they harassed La Salle into a mess of turnovers and hurried shots.
But the Green Archers, sparked by a strong performance from rookie Prince Rivero, rallied back. The Warriors were not helped by the foul trouble of imports Moustapha Arafat and Charles Mammie, both of whom fouled out in the final frame.
"Siguro maganda talaga 'yung laro ng La Salle," Sumang said. "Dumating 'yung fourth quarter, siguro mas maganda 'yung execution nila kaysa sa amin, kaya nangyari 'yung ganun."
Sumang finished with 16 points in the game and was at his best in the third period, but he acknowledged that he struggled in the game because he is recovering from a bout of tonsillitis.
"Galing ako sa sakit for two days," he said, adding that he was only able to practice on Friday and Saturday. "Pinilit ko lang talaga, kasi gusto ko rin talagang kalaban ang La Salle."
Admitting that they were unable to pass their first true test of the season after winning their first two games against lower-tier squads, Sumang said they will simply have to try to get back at La Salle in the second round.
"Siguro bawi na lang kami sa second round sa kanila. Para mas maganda 'yung game namin siguro, practice pa kami," he said. "Siguro doon naman, darating din naman kami sa second round."