08 July 2012

Game-Fixing and Point-Shaving?

Don Allado
Barako Bull player Don Allado has caused quite a stir this week with his allegations that Philippine Basketball Association games, more specifically their knock-out game last 3 July 2012 against Powerade Tigers was fixed to ensure that his team lost. Even if his claims turn out to be unprovable there are plenty of people who will give Allado the benefit of the doubt, as fix or not, that particular game could be considered as one of worst officiated game in recent memory. The game was called so poorly it prompted PBA media bureau head Willie Marcial to suspend a referee.

The particular referee failed to call a three-second violation on Powerade import Omar Sneed in the last three minutes, which resulted to a Jvee Casio floater to make it 97-89 with the Barako Bull attempting to rally back from a 6-point deficit.

After losing the game, 99-95, which eliminated the Bulls from the running in the Governors' Cup, Allado twitted, “I'm the guy that says what others can't.#PBA games are fixed. They control who is in & who is out. It's a disgrace to be in this league.”

Many may not agree to how Allado expressed his frustrations, but a good number of people have also wondered about the integrity of basketball games and are asking if the games are really fixed. If you ask my basketball gambler friend, whom I will call 'BETo', the answer is that it's highly likely.

'BETo' looks at the PBA point spread tendencies to determine if there were any unnatural occurrences taking place. He is very efficient in allocating point spreads to reflect differing abilities between teams and there is nothing wrong or illegal with this system. The problem is that the asymmetric incentives, caused by the act of setting the betting line, are being exploited.

'BETo' argues that by publicizing point shaving's existence among bettors, the probability of its detection increases, correspondingly increases its cost and decreasing its incidence.

'BETo' also finds that underdogs such as Barako Bull and Alaska Aces, covered the spread of 50.05 percent of the time, the number of winning games almost the same as the number of games lost. But larger underdogs (AIR21), where it is generally considered easier to fix games, covered the point spread at a higher rate.

My only problem with the observation of 'BETo' is that when AIR21 is losing in a lopsided games, there is a period in the fourth quarter called 'garbage time.' Garbage time could be a major factor that can influence point shaving system because it is a period where the team who is ahead is more likely to take its starters out, while the team trailing will leave its top players in longer in hopes of a miracle comeback.

Also, while large favorites such as B-MEG, Petron and Talk N' Text do tend to win at a lower rate against the point spread than they should, it will be difficult to prove that it is because of point-shaving. However, anybody can look at the statistics and show that there is something strange going on.

1 comment:

  1. It is possible that the typical Indian bug of fixing is spreading far and wide! But finally one can never say be it cricket or any other game.