23 February 2016

Selective Spitting Judgement in the PBA?

LA Revilla
Spitting in the hardcourt is nothing new in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), especially if it was done to insult and provoke another player.

Long-time PBA fans would still remember former Presto Tivoli guard Onchie de la Cruz, a rugged enforcer, doing the disgusting spit provocation on the prolific former Ginebra import Wes Matthews in the 1991 PBA Reinforced Conference.

Television cameras and referees failed to catch the incident, but sports photographer Ruben Esguerra did with his lens. Esguerra even won second prize in the PBA photo contest with the photo above, which he entitled "Freedom of Spit."

There was also the exchange of spits between Tanduay pointguard Jason Webb and Prince Warehouse Club owner Nelson Go off the court, which degenerated into a fistfight in Cebu way back in 2000. It also involved Adrian Ding, radioman Choy Torralba and Claudine trillow, Webb's girlfriend then.

In 2014, Rain or Shine big man enforcer Beau Belga was fined PhP 20,000.00 after spitting at Purefoods big man Yousef Taha during their elimination round game in the 2015 Philippine Cup. The disciplinary action was issued after the incident was assessed as flagrant misconduct.

These incidents were all illegal and merit a swift and decisive action by the PBA. However, it is not clear if spitting on the floor was also included as one of the unwanted acts on the floor.

As longs as one has been following the games live, players sometimes spit on the floor and rubs their sneakers on it to increase friction or 'kapit' whenever they run the length of the court.

It may merit some disciplinary actions, but why was it not strictly enforced? Is there selective justice in the PBA?

In the game between Mahindra Enforcers and the All-Filipino champion San Miguel Beermen last 20 February, Enforcers' guard LA Revilla was taking a freethrow to protect their slim 2-point lead with still 1:14 left in the ball game. After sinking the first free throw, he spit on the floor and was called for a technical foul.

Lucky for the Enforcers, Marcio Lassiter missed the technical free throw, Revilla converted his second charity, and his team held on for the upset victory, 102-96.

Mahindra coach Chito Victolero was thankful the technical didn't cost his team a win.

"I don't know (tawag ng referee)," the Enforcers coach said to Spin.ph. "Mabait pa rin ang Panginoon."

If taken in the whole context, it appears that the technical foul was the first if its kind in the PBA and was employed primarily to allow the Beermen to catch up with Mahindra. The questionable call was followed by two more calls that appear to support this observation.

In the battle for a rebound, Enforcers' Augustus Gilchrist and his Beermen counterpart Tyler Wilkerson were battling for a rebound, but the ball went out of bounds. The video shows that Wilkerson was diving for the ball in the direction where it crossed the line. It was clear that his momentum was responsible for the dead ball situation, but the referees still gave the Beermen possession.

In another errant decision, Gilchrist received the ball in an inbound play, tangled with Chris Ross and a jump ball was ruled. However, instead of having Gilchrist and Ross jumping for possession, it was Gilchrist and Wilkerson. What gives?

Fortunatey, those three attempts to make the Beermen stay in the ballgame or take the lead failed to bear fruit. As coach Victolero said, "Mabait pa rin ang Panginoon."

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