Meralco’s frustration over the officiating in Sunday’s 91-84 loss to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game 3 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series was certainly loud and clear after one unsavory remark was heard on television.
One Sports’ broadcast of the game was able to pick up the soundbyte made by an unknown member of the Meralco squad who shouted “Ref, lutong-luto ‘to ah,” suggesting that the officiating were deliberately favoring Ginebra.
Play-by-play commentator James Velasquez could only say “Uh oh” while his broadcast partner Jolly Escobar had to explain the drawbacks of having no fans inside the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
“Some of the disadvantages ng walang crowd. Sorry everyone,” the former PBA player said followed by what seemed like an uncomfortable laugh.
Most fans on social media were quick to point out at Meralco’s Reynel Hugnatan as the culprit. Hugnatan was upset over an earlier call when he was whistled for a foul while defending Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar inside the paint.
But it is difficult to determine if Hugnatan did utter the words, though the veteran big man was slapped a technical foul with over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Referee Rey Yante appeared to have already explained Hugnatan’s infraction to the table scorers when the remarks came.
In fact, the voice looked as if it was near a microphone while Hugnatan was almost in the middle of the court trying to argue his case. Those inside the bubble also could not determine if it was Hugnatan who made those words.
Regardless, it could be an issue PBA commissioner Willie Marcial may have to deal in the next day or two.