Philippine Daily Inquirer


From the PBA hardcourts to the grandest basketball stage, the debate rages on: When you have the ball—and a big lead—in the dying seconds, do you dribble out time or take a shot?

- By Francis T. J. Ochoa @ftjochoaIN­Q

It always seems to get Tim Cone’s goat. Yeng Guiao’s too. When the game is decided, and the opponent has the ball in his hands, he is supposed to dribble off the possession—quotient or shot clock be damned.

It is supposedly an unwritten rule in basketball, one that first became media fodder in 2008, when Kelly Williams, then playing for Sta. Lucia, soared for a stylish dunk in the final play of an 86-77 victory by the Realtors in Game 2 of their Philippine Cup semifinals against Alaska.

“We took offense to Kelly slamming the ball,” Cone, then Alaska’s coach, said. “We thought it was a lack of class. It’s disrespect­ful, you just don’t do it.”

Cone was back at it this year again, getting in the ear of San Miguel Beer guard Chris Ross when the latter made a triple at the end of the game that the Beermen won, 99-88, against his Barangay Ginebra in the Philippine Cup Finals.

In Oakland, California, the debate was pushed to the spolight after Tristan Thompson challenged a late shot by Golden State guard Shaun Livingston—a play that completely unraveled into a flagrant-2 foul, an ejection and an on-court melee.

“I contested a shot that shouldn’t have been taken,” Thompson said.

“Whatever. Just play it to the end,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said.

It’s a thorny issue with no solution.

Philadelph­ia and Miami jawed over late-game shot attempts in their playoff series this season. The 76ers and Cavs exchanged words over a Dario Saric dunk late in a blowout in March. The Warriors’ JaVale McGee got shoved by Washington’s Brandon Jennings while taking a late 3 in a rout last season. Toronto once sent about half its team to speak to Lance Stephenson after a late open layup in an Indiana win.

“I mean, it’s like the unspoken rule in the NBA: If you’re up by 10 or 11 with about 20 seconds left, you don’t take that shot,” Thompson said. “I made the contest, and next thing I know I was being kicked out for making a contest that we learn in training camp. I don’t knowwhy I got thrown out.”

Referee Tony Brothers explained why, saying he saw Thompson go into Livingston with his elbow high, thus meriting a flagrant-2 foul and ejection.

“It’s not affecting the out- come of the game,” Miami center Kelly Olynyk said on Friday from India, where he’s appearing at a Basketball Without Borders event. “It doesn’t make a difference in the outcome of the game, win and loss record. If a guy wants two more points we’ll give it to him and move on.”

The Warriors take those shots all the time. It’s basically a team policy. Since the start of the 201617 season when facing such a situation—time running out, shot clock still on, game outcome clearly decided—Golden State has been charged with a field-goal attempt 38 times, while committing only five shot-clock violations.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has a simple rule: Don’t partake in any habit that leads to a turnover.

“That’s our thing,” Golden State’s Kevin Durant said. “It’s no disre-

spect to any other team. It’s just what we do. We don’t want to take the turnover. Wetake the shot.”

For his part, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue shrugged off the Livingston shot on Friday.

“Got to play to the buzzer,” Lue said. “It doesn’t determine the game. The game was over. It’s no big deal to me. So, whatever.”

The debate is also alive hereabouts, especially with the quotient system—a mathematic­al formula used to break ties in the standings—being able to decide whether a team progresses to the playoffs or not.

“I know a team that got a poor quotient was eliminated because it did not get a shot at a knockout game,” Norman Black, the Meralco coach, said in defense of guard Chris Newsome, whowas on the receiving end of Yeng Guiao’s ire when he made a shot late in the Bolts’ 106-90 victory over NLEX recently in the Commission­er’s Cup.

“Me as a coach, I’m not naive. I know that normally, if the game is over, the game is over. You don’t want to put it in the coach’s face or the other team’s face, but until the PBA changes the rules or something else, and until they continue this rule which is the quotient rule, then we’ll follow the rules,” said Black after that game. Guiao saw it differentl­y. “It’s still disrespect. It was totally unnecessar­y at that point,” he said.

“I know that there’s a quotient rule, but it’s more than enough quotient for me,” he said. “At the same time, I did not expect it from Newsome. He’s kind of a good guy who’s going to probably understand a situation like that.”

Newsome’s take: “I was just following orders.”

PBA coaches understand how the rule is difficult to follow here, considerin­g the fate of their team may hinge on the quotient system.

“If the quotient comes into play, every point counts,” said Phoenix coach Louie Alas.

GlobalPort coach Pido Jarencio concurred, saying if a team needs quotient, “taking a shot even if the margin is already big is not disrespect­ful for me.”

But the NBA hardly needs such tiebreak measures. So it will always be a sticky point, especially for the Warriors, who want to make playing the right way a culture.

“I don’t think we would get on our feelings if somebody came down and finished out a possession and got a shot up,” Steph Curry said. “I mean, obviously, if they’re doing some taunting or doing some crazy stuff, that’s a little different. But if you’re just playing the game of basketball and finishing out a possession instead of taking a turnover, I don’t see any problem with that at all. Guys are out there to finish a game and play the right way.”

 ?? —AP ?? Tristan Thompson (top) found Shaun Livingston’s last shot unnecessar­y and committed a foul that drew a flagrant-2 call and an ejection—and an on-court melee.
—AP Tristan Thompson (top) found Shaun Livingston’s last shot unnecessar­y and committed a foul that drew a flagrant-2 call and an ejection—and an on-court melee.
 ?? —SHERWIN VARDELEON ?? Kelly Williams has had several highlight dunks in his career. In 2008, one of those dunks became the object of Tim Cone’s ire.
—SHERWIN VARDELEON Kelly Williams has had several highlight dunks in his career. In 2008, one of those dunks became the object of Tim Cone’s ire.

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