I tried. I seriously tried.

When I do post games, what I usually do is watch the game live or on replay but without breaks. This way, I have an idea about how the game felt like – momentum shifts, why substitutions were made, when they were made, the crowds effect. And then I watch it again, taking notice of key points, plays, actions, directives and everything else I like to talk about. I get a clip of those instances. Then re-watch them again (yes, I’m very thorough like that) and then I crunch the numbers and see if it all fits. Most of the time, it does. When it doesn’t, I re-watch again and then see if I missed anything.

But this game, I just couldn’t. I barely made it through the first half of the first watch. It didn’t matter really. Two days later and the images are still stuck in my brain – Kiefer Ravena repeatedly hoisting bad shot after bad shot, Juami trying desperately to bring us back from the dead, Buenafe valiantly attempting to battle through the referees swallowing their whistles, Vosotros just torching the coaching staff’s decision to zone off on him and how Perkins repeatedly got to the rim and finished using his big behind and a strong sense of angles.

No, don’t get the wrong sense that I thought Ateneo should have won this. They didn’t win. But I also didn’t think they should have lost this game. It was a toss up until the end. That’s what makes me sad (and maybe happy). The breaks of the game went La Salle’s way – that’s something no one can control (unless you’re fond of conspiracy theories, where I chime in and say stop).

I’ll deviate a little from what I do and instead of focusing on giving you mostly objective analysis (numbers, graphs, images, videos, etc.), I’m going to go and make this an emotional dump (sprinkled with analysis). I’ve been racking my brain the past two days trying to figure out how to say all I want to say and I came up with an idea – shot gun. Just throw everything out there and hope that our intelligent readers find a way to make sense out of it for me.

Just to give you a sense of how close this battle was:

Team Pace Rating eFG TOV% ORB% FTR
ADMU 80.4 79.6 36.2% 9.9% 24.5% 11.8%
DLSU 80.4 82.1 42.1% 20.5% 15.4% 31.6%

La Salle won the most important factor (shooting) but Ateneo dominated the next two (turnovers and rebounding) and then La Salle took the least important part (free throws).

Review: Keys to the Game

1. Offensive Rebounding

Ateneo won this – 24.5 percent versus 15.4 percent. It was a team effort that allowed Ateneo to win this. Ryan Buenafe was invaluable grabbing one monster rebound after another, grabbing them viciously out of the reach of La Salle players. Man on a mission.

2. Paint Job

Ateneo lost this – big time. All their offensive rebounds didn’t matter because they couldn’t convert them. On the other side, La Salle got good scoring opportunities by being physical and bullying their way to the hoop. Whether you think the refs had something to do with us losing this skirmish (and ultimately, the war), that’s your call. I refuse to put the blame on the referees.

3. Offense vs Defense?

I said Ateneo wouldn’t be able to score against La Salle – I didn’t expect it to be this bad. Ateneo’s defense against La Salle was good (save for the hiccup against Vosotros sometime in the second half). Their offense just couldn’t score enough to win this. It was Ateneo’s offense not showing that killed this game for us.

Game Notes and Other Observations

1. Bad Calls

Ok, let’s get one thing out of the way – the referees played a horrible game (and yes, I do think they’re “playing” during the game.) It wasn’t just on the Ateneo side, they also missed a lot of calls favoring La Salle. It was a horrible match to watch.

You may say – “No way! Ateneo got the short end of the stick!”

I don’t think so, and even if I did, I wouldn’t think the difference would matter a lot in the overall scheme of things. Until such a time when someone can make a convincing and irrefutable case about the bad calls on their teams AND the other team cannot present the same thing to me, I’ll refuse to blame the referees for anything.

Most of my readers are Ateneans so I’ll ask this – remember Ravena’s game-tying trick shot? Did you notice that he walked?

Or maybe the Juami floater of a spin in the dying seconds of the fourth that cut La Salle’s lead to two? Did you notice how he shuffled his feet? Uncalled.

Those were two of the most egregious calls in the game – including the uncalled Perkins’ shot-in-the-face non-offensive foul and the Teng tap-in-the-cheek foul on Buenafe. And those were just calls I noticed in the last two or so minutes of the game. Ask any Lasallian to dictate the wrong calls that went against them, I’m sure they’ll also have a list but they won’t remember a lot since they won.

Most of the times, emotions get the best of us. We see what we want to see and we disregard everything else. I pride myself on being able to control my emotions and seeing things for what they are (I saw those uncalled traveling violations, in the heat of battle, with my team trying to mount a comeback). But I’m not perfect, I’m readily admitting I saw more calls favor La Salle than Ateneo. But I’m not saying that’s the case because I’m pretty sure I missed tons of ’em.

So no, the referees didn’t “cook” this for La Salle. The referees played a small role in terms of “who got the longer end of the stick.”

Ateneo La Salle

This isn’t the first time a coach felt like his team didn’t get a call. (Photo Credit: Reiley Udasco, Fabilioh)

2. Referee Calling

Just because I think the referees’ foul calling was not favoring one side, doesn’t mean I think it wasn’t bad. It was.

I’ve accepted the human nature of referee calling – these guys are just like you and me – they’re working, they’re stressed out. They also get caught up in the moment. They also make wrong decisions in the heat of the moment. They also have emotions (not about who they’re cheering for, but rather the endless “Pu**ng Ina mo!” and the “Ang Bo** mo!” and people constantly judging their training and their judgement eating their emotions and their pride to nothing).

That’s why I’ve kept the “calling the referees out” minimal – although I couldn’t help myself in the heat of battle. I limit them to raised arms and a face of disbelief, an occasional “Ref, ayusin mo naman!” Rarely do I swear, make malicious and hurtful remarks.

Why was it bad then? Consistency.

That’s all you can ask from these HUMAN referees – consistency. You’re calling it tight, call it tight from start to end. You’re calling it loose, call it loose.

Don’t change your tune in the first from the fourth – a foul in the first isn’t a foul in the fourth anymore or a moving pick in the dying seconds is legal. I would have been livid had those Tiongson and Ravena baskets been called for what they are – traveling. But I would have been livid at the ref for a moment, then be livid at the mistimed miscue after – not the refs anymore. Which brings me to my next point.

3. Let the Players Play

A common refrain from people who feel like their teams are getting the “bad calls.”

And I’ve always lol’d at this refrain because if we did agree to this, then let’s just go to an “honesty system” (a system prevalent among non-competitive basketball games in barangays) and let the players play. Let’s remove the referees.

Di kasi yun ang ibig saibhin ng “Let the Players Play.” Ang ibig sabihin noon ay sana players and maging dahilan bakit mananalo at matatalo ang team nila.

Yes, I understand – which is why they play a 40-minute game. What, you think Kiefer taking that spin-cycle, off-the-glass shot over two defenders was decided by the referee? Or maybe Erram zoning off too far from the Vosotros/Salem or Perkins ball screen was because the refs didn’t allow the players to “play?” Or maybe Kiefer missing those two free throws were also because the refs didn’t call a foul on him a couple of seconds ago?

For every call, you can point that could have affected the game, I can point to 20 total shots, turnovers and/or wrong decisions that affected the game more than that call. And you’ll lose even if you argue that ALL the fouls are bad (pushing it to the extreme). There were 43 fouls called combined in the game – let’s add another 22 uncalled fouls (which is on average around 11 per team which means around 1~2 uncalled fouls per quarter for each team, a reasonable assumption for both teams). That’s 65 instances that affected the game.

Both teams missed a combined 87 shots, turned the ball over a combined 27 times, missed a foul shot a combined 15 times. That totals 129 instances of “possible bad actions/moments” – let’s take out those shots near the rim and shots from threes (63 misses total from both areas). That’s still 66 instances of actions that affected the game. I haven’t even added the “wrong cuts, bad spacings, true isolations, awful play calling, awful executing” which probably totals anywhere between 10 to 20 per game.

So no, referees are often times not the reasons your team lost (or in this case, our team).

4. Coach Bo and JJ Atayde

I’ve already said my piece about this on my Facebook. For the sake of readers who aren’t my friends on FB. Here it is:

Re: Coach Bo – You can understand why he did it. No reason to believe he didn’t cross a line. There’s a reason why there’s a boundary between the court and the stands. Unless there was physical contact involved (a spit? A bottle thrown? Water?) or some libelous/malicious words thrown at you (DIE BITCH/You’re an idiot who doesn’t know shit about basketball/I’ll KILL YOU), you can’t justify Coach Bo crossing the stands (even then it’s still a bad idea).

So yes, Coach Bo, IMO, was wrong crossing the stand.

Re: Heckler – I don’t know how to react. I was not there. I did not hear what he said. I did not hear how he said. I did not hear when he said what. I did not see what he did – did he give a middle finger? A sarcastic grin? A two-faced high five?. (Do consider also that most of the sources are Lasallians. Not saying they’d try to cover up stuff but they might have not seen some stuff.)

But his “heckling” is a normal part of “Ateneo-La Salle” games. Which brings me to my next point:

Is heckling supposed to be between fans and players on the court? or between fans and fans?

If it’s the latter, then the people ON the court (referees, players, coaches, technical committee) should be given the same privilege as you – a spectator – have. If you SHOULD have immunity against their actions, then they SHOULD have immunity against yours. Which means heckling a coach like that:

“Salamat Coach Bo, pinapanalo mo kami” (or something to that ilk) is inexcusable especially after an emotionally charged game such as this one.

If it’s the latter, then you should exercise your freedom. Because freedom isn’t “I can say whatever I want to say” but rather “What I say matters, which means I just can’t say anything” (OR something like that.)

In a lot of things I do, I always ask: How would I feel if I was in his shoes, taking into account some error term because no two experiences are the same?

If I was in Bo’s shoes, I wouldn’t know how to react. I do know that I shouldn’t react at all (and walk to the dugout calmly). But what I think I should do and what I will do are two different things.

Which is probably why I rarely heckle and when I do, I make sure to make it quick and non-offensive.

In the end, this is another “gray” matter scattered in a “gray” world. Can’t just say: “He’s a coach, he need not do that. He’s a fan, he can say whatever”. Or something like that. You get the point.

Take that however you want it.

That’s about it on my emotional dump on this post game.

Fun Heckling: Congrats La Salle.