MANILA, Philippines – UAAP basketball commissioner Ato Badolato today debunked claims by Santo Tomas coach Pido Jarencio that the Tigers got the raw end of the calls in Game 1 of the men's finals, insisting that referees performed "credibly" and "fairly" officiated the series opener that Ateneo won, 83-78.
He did, however, admit that UST's Jeric Teng should have been awarded two free throws for a foul called right before the buzzer but circumstances forced them not to do so anymore.
"As far as we are concerned, the referees performed a creditable job in that game," Badolato said during today's PSA Forum at Shakey's Malate.
The veteran commissioner went public in the midst of a raging word war between Jarencio and Ateneo counterpart Norman Black regarding officiating. Jarencio had howled over what he felt was biased officiating, to the extent of putting up the angle "Filipino versus American." Black had fired back and described some of Jarencio's comments as "very mean" and "uncalled for," adding fireworks to tomorrow's Game 2 at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
"It was a fairly officiated game. There were no calls that would've altered the outcome," Badolato said, also pointing to the stats that showed Ateneo getting into penalty situation with still eight minutes left in the fourth, in contrast to UST, which only reached its third team foul when Karim Abdul was assessed his fifth and last for trying to strip the leather from Kiefer Ravena, 30.8 ticks left with the Eagles only up by three, 81-78.
That foul was a point of complaint for Jarencio, who claimed it was a clean steal. But Badolato thought otherwise.
"While the hand of Abdul got all ball, his elbow caught the body of Kiefer and you know, Kiefer is a very good actor, so he managed to get a foul. There was really a foul so we can't penalize officials for that," he explained.
As for the last shot of Teng, Badolato said Ateneo's Ryan Buenafe fouled him right before time expired (0.2 seconds) but the UST swingman did not make the attempt in time. But since Ateneo was already in penalty, Teng should have taken two free-throws.
"We had to give free throws but the problem is, all the people were already on the court and coach Pido was fuming mad, confronting the referees while they were on the way to the monitor to find out the situation," he said.
"We had to clear the court in order to give those free throws so we decided, since it would not affect the outcome of the game, to end the game. I think we'll have more trouble if we've done that (send people away and award the freebies)," he added.
Badolato said had the score been a lot closer, they might have proceeded with the charities. "Had it been a three-point lead, we would have done it. It was a five-point lead and I think it would be more tedious to remove people and give the foul shots."
The commissioner had given Jarencio a "strong reprimand" for his action, deciding against a harsher punishment like suspension. "It was the heat of the moment and I would not want to penalize a team by suspending the coach so I just decided to give a strong reprimand for various reasons, like confronting referees and making those comments in media," he said.
While promising "fair officiating" in Game 2, Badolato appealed for coaches' "patience."
"I appeal for patience, not only from coaches and players but all fans as well. We'll be doing our utmost best to make sure there will be trouble-free Game 2, or if ever Game 3. Rest assured referees will be on top of the situation; we'll call them as we see it," he vowed, promising that "lapses on the part of the referees, especially in the end game will not be tolerated."