“We submitted the letter of protest to the Commissioner’s office,” said NU athletic director Junel Baculi. “Our contention is that the lay-up and basket (made by RR Garcia of FEU) came after the time has expired.”
With the score knotted at 75-all, Garcia got a quick half-court pass from Roger Pogoy with two seconds left, took three steps from the three-point region then scooted home for the game-winning left-handed lay-up with barely one-tenth of a second remaining.
While the Tamaraws whopped it up and the Bulldogs kept their fingers crossed, Badolato, along with the other game officials, keenly reviewed the tape and decided to count the bucket.
The pulsating win lifted FEU into a tie with idle University of Santo Tomas at second spot anew with identical 8-3 records while dropping NU to fifth with a 6-5 mark, half-a-game adrift of La Salle.
NU coach Eric Altamirano, however, insisted Badolato’s call was inconclusive, saying: “It’s really a questionable call. Even the video can’t really show clearly. We ourselves reviewed it and the ball was still in the tip of (Garcia’s) finger (when the buzzer sounded).
“We’ll just file it (protest) and see how they’ll respond. In hindsight they should have allowed the game to go into overtime,” he added.
Baculi, who also serves as the league’s secretary-treasurer, wants the Bulldogs to take a systematic approach, saying: “We’re just waiting for the commissioner to decide on the protest then we'll see what our next action will be.”
Meanwhile, FEU coach Bert Flores insisted Garcia’s lay-up was clearly made right before the buzzer sounded.
“Counted talaga,” stressed Flores. “Nakita ko talaga ‘yung lay-up ni RR bago pa pumula ‘yung buzzer kaya tumalon na ako.
“Kitang-kita naman ng lahat ng tao na counted kaya convinced akong kami ang nanalo. Inulit-ulit pa nila ‘yung replays kaya wala ng question pa. Si Baculi nandu’n rin at nakita kong hinampas niya ‘yung table pag-ka-shoot ni RR,” he added.
Anton Motinola, FEU’s representative to the UAAP Board, refused to grant an interview and just sent a text message: “No comment. Pls (Please) ask the Commish (Commissioner) n (and) the refs.”