I faxed this letter to Mr. Barrios in exasperation over the way he handled the Air21 team protest, a protest he eventually dismissed for reasons that still puzzle me. Anyway, as I stated below, this is the only way I can express my disgust. So be it.
17 November 2008
Mr. Sonny Barrios
Philippine Basketball Association
Dear Commissioner Barrios,
As a basketball loving citizen, I believe I am entitled a space to express my utter disappointment over your decision to deny Air21’s petition for consideration regarding the bad judgment call of Mario Montiel in its game against the Beermen on November 5.
Needless to repeat, but the video replay of De Ocampo’s shot was and ought to be counted for as 3 points not 2, ensuring therefore the Mailmen’s victory in the first overtime.
While the Air21 team played on for the second overtime, which you might have taken as a waiver of protest over De Ocampo’s 3-point shot in the first overtime, this did not change the fact that the Mailmen had already won the game had the management cared to review the footage and listened to the protestations of team manager Angelito Alvarez and some members of Air21 team, informal as it was. It is futile to explain to you, or to the public, why Air 21 went on to play for the second overtime when in fact and by clear evidence, it had already won the game.
In the spirit of true sportsmanship, I was hoping that you could rectify the erroneous call right after game. But I was wrong. You made the matter worse before it got even better by upholding the unfair decision. At the very least, the incompetent referee and the unyielding and unreasonable table official should have been sanctioned accordingly.
Is this really the way things are being handled in the country’s premier basketball league? I expected heads will roll, but my expectation, seemingly, are quite high.
May I remind you that in the world of sports, we do not only play by the rules and technicalities that govern them: We also play according to our moral convictions and in the spirit of fairness and healthy sense of competition. This calls for competent and fair and transparent officiating and game administration, and not simply saving faces of thick-faced referees and table officials.
In my book, professional sports is about character just as it is about raw athletic power. I was so disgusted that the head of the country’s most prestigious ballclub has shown symptom of un-athletic and unsportsmanlike behavior. But as in any disease, I wish for your speedy recovery. And let the healing process began.
Since no heads rolled, I firmly believe you owe an apology to the entire Air21 team and management and to scores of fans whose hearts you broke, including mine, with your unsportsmanlike decision. Surely, your apology will not redeem Air21’s loss in that game but I believe this will salvage the integrity of the concerned referee and table officials, whatever little is left of it.
You may refer to lesson in the PBA history where earlier bad decisions were turned and overturned for the sake of just and fair officiating. Just a warning though: You may lose face in trying to save it, but at least you will do justice not only to Air21 but to all those you offended, insulted, disgusted, and disappointed with your unfair decision.
Finally, to ask for a replay may be an impossibility, but I’m a firm believer of man’s capacity to change. I can only hope that you share this belief of mine.