No, we haven’t seen it all.
At this point, where a slight nudge or flick of the wrist is all it would need to trigger chaos, it is no longer necessary to wait for that moment, where all hell’s going to break loose.
We saw a lot of extra-curricular activities unfold in Game 4 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals between Rain or Shine and Talk ‘N Text — the unneccesary pushing, shoving, and shouting among players, unprofessional conduct, extreme physicality, you name it.
The PBA’s set of rules (or the lack of it) has pushed this series to take a turn for the worse. All the action that transpired throughout Game 4 is indicative of what may possibly occur in less than 48 hours, when both squads lock horns anew for a pivotal Game 5.
Game 4 has been the most heated affair in the series so far. Furthermore, there were countless instances where players would just get away with cheap shots and blatant aggression. Some acts, however, were not tolerated and were penalized, but because the league lacks an ultra-specific set of do’s and don’ts, or a defined threshold between what is legal and what is prohibited, opportunities to do such unprofessional acts surface.
Case 1: Ivan Johnson elbowed Jervy Cruz to try and erase him out of his way after the latter had fouled him.
Case 2: Raymond Almazan shoved Johnson after the Tropang Texters import tried to eavesdrop on an Elasto Painters midcourt huddle.
Case 3: Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Jireh Ibañes got entangled and ended up shoving each other, while the latter pulled the former’s jersey in trying to maintain his balance.
Case 4: Moments after, JR Quiñahan threw the ball intentionally and hit Ganuelas-Rosser in the face. It prompted Johnson to rush towards the Rain or Shine big. Quiñahan was moments away from getting crushed, but thanks to Head Coach, Yeng Guiao, and the rest of the squad who stormed the court, Johnson did not pull his trigger.
There were countless illegal screens. There were tons of excessive holding. However, the officials just let all of that to happen as if they did not have control of the match.
Almost the entire Rain or Shine bench entered the floor after the near free-for-all instigated by Ganuelas-Rosser and Ibañes, an absolute no-no however you look at it, but the league did…. you guessed it right… NOTHING.
“It’s borderline… almost having a brawl every single moment.” – Jong Uichico
Some might say, “But hey, that’s basketball! You have to be tough. You will get hurt.”
Of course you will get hurt. It’s basketball, but getting fouled, jockeying for position to get rebounds, driving strong to the hoop, and the like — all those examples are part of the game.
All the extra stuff in Game 4? Not basketball.
From what we saw, not only in Game 4 but in many occasions throughout the conference, it seems the league just wants its constituents to deal with it.
Deal with it? But why are all of these happening in the first place?
There is a reason why the adage “prevention is better than cure” is still relevant until now.
The officials have control over what should happen on the court. They are in charge of what to allow and what not to allow, and they should be authoritative.
While the officiating philosophy gives the viewers a more exciting and fast-paced match (referees call less fouls, let go of more action, and expect the game to be finished in a shorter amount of time, among other reasons), it is also the reason why all of this hullabaloo exist.
There is a reason why reinforcements always claim physicality in the PBA is way up there compared to other leagues around the world and why they complain about it during games. There is a reason why players continue to rant about the officiating on social media. There is a reason why the list of players and coaches getting slapped with Ts, ejected, fined, or suspended goes on and on.
It’s because of what is allowed — which is based on what officials CHOOSE to allow.
The officials don’t even serve warnings. They don’t even talk to players and tell them to avoid doing unnecessary antics. Moreover, players get away with whatever cheap shot they can think of. They get away with whatever it is that they can do on the floor, since it seems that there no limits to what is allowed or what is not.
Is it the only way to sell the sport or in the vernacular make it “patok?” Is it the only way to make Philippine basketball entertaining? Is there no other way to raise the quality of play than being physical?
Chot Reyes even told his 2014 Gilas Pilipinas team that they had to “unlearn” a few aspects of the game because the way the game is played elsewhere is different.
“It will escalate if they allow it to escalate. The refs are supposed to control the game and protect the players. They are letting go of a lot of physical contact kaya ganoon ang mangyayari. The refs need to control the game. Hindi na nacocontrol ang physicality. It’s a nice series. I don’t want to turn it into an ugly series.” – Yeng Guiao
Why can’t we focus on the beauty of the sport itself? Why can’t fans indulge in just seeing spectacular plays, gravity-defying moves, splendid execution and offensive sets, in-game coaching brilliance, and championship-caliber basketball?
Unless the league does responds to the situation and has a long-term plan to assure a proper sportsmanship, we can expect more action, more blood, more postgame shouting matches, and more five or six-digit fines added to the so-called “players fund.”
Aren’t they becoming tired of it?
Aren’t they getting tired of having to summon players each time, having to issue statements, having to review plays overnight, and having to suspend or sack referees?
I am starting to feel a little exhausted about it, because I know this isn’t basketball.
I hope they realize there is more to basketball than just pushing and shoving.
Game 4 was a stern wake-up call, and unless they act upon it, I won’t be surprised if chaos ensues one of these days.
This isn’t basketball.