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Aquino, Gruta banned for rest of conference after late officiating errors in Ginebra-GlobalPort game

The PBA technical committee adjudged that Stanley Pringle committed not just a five-second ball hogging infraction but a backing violation as well, leading to the suspension of two erring referees. PBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa suspended referees Edward Aquino and Romell Gruta after committing huge lapses in the final play of the knockout quarterfinal match between Ginebra and GlobalPort on Sunday night.

In an official statement on Tuesday, Narvasa said that Aquino and Gruta will not officiate the remaining two rounds of the Philippine Cup, the semifinals and the finals, for missing out on not just one but two supposed turnovers committed by Stanley Pringle in the last 7.6 seconds of the overtime game won by his Batang Pier squad over the Gin Kings, 84-83.

The statement said, "In the deliberation with the technical committee, it was determined that two (2) violations were not called. One was the 5-second ball hogging violation which was the responsibility of referee Rommel Gruta. The second infraction was the backing violation of GlobalPort’s Stanley Pringle, whose responsibility was that of referee Edward Aquino’s. As a result of these two non-calls, Barangay Ginebra was denied final ball possession. The technical committee decided that both referees shall be suspended for the rest of the ongoing Philippine Cup effective immediately."

Narvasa, however, clarified, "The technical committee also determined that only referees Aquino and Gruta were liable for these missed calls," sparing the other two officials, Mardy Montoya and Bong Oliva, from sanctions.

Narvasa, on the other hand, also said that Aquino and Gruta admitted their fault about the missed calls.

"In their opening statement, the referees accepted that they missed the call, they were apologetic and were ready to face the sanctions that would be imposed on them," the commissioner further stated.

The said controversial play was a solid ground for Ginebra to put the match under protest, but the team decided not to pursue an appeal by the 12 p.m. deadline set by the league on Monday.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno