It will be remembered that the Blue Eagles rallied from a double-digit deficit late in the fourth quarter to beat the Tamaraws in overtime and nab the top Final Four spot. There was, however, a minor commotion in the last seconds of regulation when play was halted and Blue Eagle Von Pessumal's basket with 3:20 remaining in the fourth quarter, which was earlier scored as a two-pointer, was adjusted to a three.
In his post-game presser after their enervating loss, FEU head coach Nash Racela was gracious in defeat and attributed his team's loss to, among other things, their numerous missed free throws.
But something apparently changed between then and Monday, when the FEU camp filed a protest questioning the propriety of what they thought was a review of the Pessumal basket. They obviously wanted another crack at that top spot and, just as important, to avoid the circuitous route of going through a playoff for the second Final Four slot and the twice-to-beat advantage that goes with it.
In all fairness, I think the "controversy" arose from simple misunderstanding.
An Ateneo Sports Shooters photo that made the rounds clearly shows that from the start, the nearest referee ruled Pessumal's basket a three-point conversion. (The ABS-CBN Sports broadcast panel also also called it a three, although it's unclear whether the coliseum barker announced it as that.)
But for one reason or another, those at the scorer's table missed the referee's signal and incorrectly added just two point to Ateneo's score. Commissioner Jao and his people, meanwhile, attempted to call the referees' attention to the scoring miscue, but only succeeded with 27.4 seconds remaining .
The coliseum barker then added to the confusion when he announced, "There is a challenge on that shot of Von Pessumal a while ago. We will review it," although there was really neither a challenge made (least of all from the Ateneo side, as it was the Commissioner and his subordinates who were attempting to correct the score to reflect the true tally) nor a review to be done, just a score correction.
I loved Commisioner Jao's tart "Lastly, I would like to let you Coach know that the Commissioner's Office does not violate the rules, we enforce them for the benefit of all the teams in the league. Please inform the FEU management and community [of] this fact," reply to the protest.
Turnabout is fair play; after all, the protest said, "The FEU community has expressed its disappointment regarding the inappropriate violation of specific UAAP ground rules."
FEU has accepted the Commissioner's decision but went on to cite some lingering concerns.