Mendoza: Basketball win of the century lost to referees

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By Al S. Mendoza

All Write

Monday, September 1, 2014


WE almost beat Croatia because of Andray Blatche.

If not for several bum calls, plus bad breaks down the stretch, we might have made mission impossible possible.

Blatche, the 6’11” naturalized Filipino, kept on amassing points with impunity.

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Slashing the paint for twinners.

Tearing nets from the arc.

Sinking pressure-packed free throws.

With his 28 points, Blatche was the game’s top scorer. Add his 12 rebounds and that made him, hands down, the battle’s biggest hero.

Dwarfed therefore by Blatche’s heroics was Croatia’s 81-78 overtime victory, which came when fouls against Croatia weren’t called, when a flop call against Jason Castro proved fatal in the end.

Castro’s fall when banged up by a driving giant was deemed a flop by a flip of a referee, triggering a crippling 5-0 enemy blast that erased Gilas’ 69-66 lead for a 71-69 Croatia margin with 1:33 left.

Stung by the flop call, Castro collected himself and floated one from the keyhole for the 71-all deadlock.

With 20 seconds left, Croatia missed a go-ahead lay-up, and that’s when Chan missed the winning shot.

Still, give credit, please?

Chan, the pride and joy of Murcia, Negros Occidental, had the biggest heart among our homegrown talents, firing 17 points that could have ballooned to 19 had his gun-beating jumper in regulation went in.

It was history going down the drain for lefty Chan, whose heave from near the right corner mercifully hit the front rim to grudgingly push the 71-all standoff to overtime.

Despite missing our appointment with destiny, we fought on with cardiac courage in overtime and we were actually on the brink of completing the basketball win of the century.

But then, the gods intervened – through the referees.

Castro – yes, it was Castro again – had the ball while scooting from the left flank. But, lo and behold, after he got nudged firing the tying trey at the buzzer, no foul was called.

Score’s stuck at 81-78. Croatia.

“When a game is merely ticks away from the final buzzer, Fiba referees aren’t around anymore,” said a veteran PBA coach. “It’s like a bandy clock thing. If it’s 5 p.m., work is over. Time to go home.”

Had Castro gotten a foul, who knows what might have happened next?

Sometimes, the gods love to play games with us, you know. Grin and bear it.

(alsol47@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 02, 2014.

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