They've been interesting, that's for sure.
The PBA instituted a handful of new rules for the 48th season, and some have already been felt with game-changing results in the Commissioner's Cup.
According to PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, some of the new rules are meant to make the games closer to FIBA contests for a more seamless transition to the international game.
Here are some of them that were already enforced in the ongoing conference.
1. No more player timeout
The biggest change is taking away the power to call a timeout for all players. As such, only coaches can now call timeouts, meaning it will have to happen during a dead ball situation.
This rule rewards the defense, as the offense can no longer be bailed out of a tight spot by calling a timeout.
Players can no longer call a timeout after a rebound or a steal, which should make up for faster and exciting endgames, but can also take away the brilliance of off-timeout drawn-up plays to win the game.
As of writing, there have been seven games decided by seven points or fewer. With three of the last four games having a point difference of only one or two. This means that the players’ inability to call timeouts drastically changed the outcome of the game.
NLEX vs San Miguel - Coming back from 19 points down, NLEX had a shot at beating SMB in regulation after Thomas Robinson grabbed the rebound off a Terrence Romeo miss. There were still a few ticks left on the clock but he could not call a timeout, so all they could manage was a heave from the other side of the floor.
Luckily for the Road Warriors, they still went on to win the game in overtime, 117-113.
Phoenix vs Rain or Shine - This was also the case for the game between the Fuel Masters and Elasto Painters. With Phoenix leading by one point, 99-98, there was a mad scramble for the loose ball with Javee Mocon and Tyler Tio getting possession. But since they could not call a timeout, they were forced to throw risky passes that were almost stolen by the defense.
However, they managed to locate their import Johnathan Williams, who was then fouled for two free throws. As the Phoenix import is not a strong free-throw shooter, he ended up missing both. ROS import DaJuan Summers grabbed the rebound with only a second remaining and threw it from the other side of the court. He missed, allowing Phoenix to hang on to the win.
While it would have been nice to see what ROS coach Yeng Guiao could've come up with to try and win it after a timeout with a second remaining, there’s also a strong point for this rule change, as it’s helped move the games forward and maintain a good flow.
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2. Coach's challenge
Another big change is the official enforcement of the coach's challenge after it was tested out during the PBA on Tour. All coaches are initially given one challenge in the game. If they use it successfully, they will be given a second and final challenge. An unsuccessful challenge will mean that the coach can no longer issue another one for the rest of the game.
The effect of this was evident in the Manila Clasico last Sunday. The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel lost a 26-point lead in the first half and they were stuck in a deadlock against the Magnolia Hotshots, 86-86, in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. Tony Bishop was fighting for position inside against a smaller defender in Paul Lee, and a referee called a foul against the Magnolia guard.
However, almost at the very same moment, Ginebra's Maverick Ahanmisi threw up a three-point shot that went in. The three referees conferred with each other and determined that the shot would not count.
But coach Tim Cone issued a challenge that was deemed successful. The referees ended up counting the Ahanmisi three and awarding a bonus free throw to Bishop instead of just a sideline throw-in for Ginebra.
It was a critical call since it kept Team NSD in the game. Magnolia, however, would later overcome the deficit and win, 93-91, as Cone was unable to challenge what they thought were fouls on Scottie Thompson and Christian Standhardinger since there was no whistle from the referees.
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The PBA has also adjusted its rules when it comes to the disqualification of players and coaches. In the past, two technical fouls or two flagrant foul penalty 1s or even one of each would lead to an automatic ejection. However, it’s now more like three strikes and you’re out in the PBA.
In the game between the Terrafirma Dyip and the Road Warriors, fans initially thought that NLEX might be forced to play without an import after Robinson was called for an unsportsmanlike foul penalty 1 in the first half. He put a hand on Javi Gomez de Liano’s face during a shot challenge.
The mercurial NLEX import was then assessed a technical foul due to a second delay-of-game warning, and then another technical foul due to second motion after he was fouled by Aldrech Ramos.
After all that, Robinson still stayed in the game, as the delay-of-game technical foul is not considered unsportsmanlike and therefore not counted against his three strikes.
While the talk in NBA circles is now about referees being trigger-happy in issuing technical fouls, especially with minor taunts and celebrations from some of the league’s biggest stars, the PBA went the other way by being a little more lenient.
Do you like the rule changes so far? Any confusion that you’d want us to clear up with the league? Hit the comments for questions and even suggestions and be part of the discussion.(PM)