What should have been a won ball game ended up as a bitter loss for the Air21 Express, as they fell 89-88, Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Although the Express admittedly had unforced errors, Air21 head coach Franz Pumaren thinks that the calls down the stretch cost them the game.
After Air21 import Mike Dunigan turned the ball off a careless cross-court pass, Mark Isip was called for a blocking foul on Chris Ross which resulted in two free throws. Ross sank the charities to arrive at the final margin for the Meralco Bolts.
As the Bolts celebrated their second straight one-point victory, Pumaren walked towards the officials to ask for clarifications on the calls and non-calls in the dying moments of the game.
"In the past few games, I was trying to control myself but it seems that the more I control myself, the worse it gets," said Pumaren after the game. "In fact in our last game against Rain or Shine, there was also a questionable no-call on Michael Dunigan."
Pumaren referred to a push from Beau Belga which got Dunigan out of position. The Express were down by two points at that point and a basket could have forced an overtime period.
"The referees robbed us of a very good game," lamented Pumaren. "We came back from 17 or 18 points down but we were not given a shot at winning the ball game."
Pumaren cited three calls that could have swung the game to their favor.
"First of all, the foul they called on Mark Isip was not a foul. It happened right in front of us and that was not a foul," Pumaren said. "Then the no-call on Chris Ross. He pulled Mike Cortez which caused him to lose control of the ball but there was no call from the referees."
Pumaren also cited a an instance where the referees failed to call Mark Cardona for a traveling violation which later led to an Air21 foul and two free throws for Meralco.
"I don't know what's happening to the referees," Pumaren said. "I need to be vocal now because the more I keep quiet, the more we get the raw end of the calls."
Source: Carlo Pamintuan, GMA Network.com