Basketball: Ref rage proves costly

By Anendra Singh

He will be the first to admit he should never have crossed that line on to the court of contention before the referees imposed two technical fouls to banish him from the game.

And he's at pains to impress it shouldn't detract from the fact that it was another energy-sapping defeat.

But frankly HBS Bank Hawks coach Tab Baldwin is beside himself following their 101-86 loss to Taranaki Mountain Airs in New Plymouth on Saturday night.

In 30 years of coaching, Baldwin has never received a technical foul but that changed in the Bartercard National Basketball League match.

If that wasn't enough, the former Tall Blacks coach said Hawks captain Paora Winitana copped a similar fate, something he too had never experienced in 16 years of bobbing, weaving and faking at the elite level.

"Look I'm disappointed, and so is Paora, for putting myself and the team in that position," Baldwin said, after remonstrating with a referee soon after another whistle blower pinged Winitana for a technical foul with 2m 12s remaining on the clock.

"It was just a horrible call on Paora. It was a technical foul for something most other refs in the league wouldn't bat an eyelid," he said of the incident that cost the team a total of eight free throws (for three technical and one normal fouls) off the charity line and the loss of possession with time fast deserting the visitors.

Baldwin said it wasn't like Winitana, a Mormon bishop, would ever resort to foul language to warrant such attention.

"Paora's reaction to the technical foul was one of disbelief and he was very upset and I was watching him."

While the game looked similar in character to the defeat to the Otago Nuggets in Napier last Saturday, Baldwin said it was actually a different kind.

The Hawks, up 43-38 at halftime, lost every quarter bar the first one.

"There were a lot of fouls but our guys were aggressive," he said after the David Bublitz-coached Taranaki chalked up 39 shot attempts to Hawks' 15 from the free-throw line.

Taranaki's Jack Leasure had a game-high 27 points with seven assists while fellow import Kenny Gabriel registered a double-double of 25 points and 16 rebounds, of which 14 were defensive ones.

For the Hawks, Winitana scored 21 points while Serb import Darko Cohadarevic added 20 with nine rebounds and Dion Prewster chimed in with 16 points.

American import slasher Brian Greene had the most time on court (35 minutes) but contributed only 12 points (4/21 from field goals; 3/12 from outside the arc) and collected five steals and six rebounds.

Winitana, Cohadarevic and Greene were all fouled out while Aidan Daly (28:22), on four fouls, had more game time than first-choice point guard Jarrod Kenny (17:58).

"Brian played his heart out. While he didn't score some shots we'd like him to have, he worked hard," Baldwin said.

No doubt, the defeat - the third from four games - will dent the Hawks' confidence but he felt it wasn't something they couldn't iron out during practice sessions in a bid to find that winning feeling.

Bublitz said Winitana got fouled and lost his rag while Baldwin crossed the line twice in retaliation.

None of the three refs - Sean Cronin (Manawatu), Melony Wealleans (Wellington; 2012 ref of the year) or Kieran Udy (North Shore) - is a Taranaki official.

"You don't want anyone from Taranaki refereeing," he said with a laugh before clarifying, "We have neutral referees at every home game."

Bublitz said all teams were sent new rules pertaining to the manner in which players and coaches should engage with officials this season.

"I'm not sure what Tab's talking about but he picked up a technical foul at the pre-tournament in Porirua."

Breaking their losing streak, Bublitz said everything they had practised for five weeks fell into place, including their imports.

"We also had 27 points from the bench and 46 from the paint," he said, although he did rue conceding 18 turnovers.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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