Story and photos by Lai Jun Wei/Red Sports.
Singapore Basketball Centre, Tuesday, August 12 , 2008 – There were shouts, protests and strong reactions at this game. No, not from the players on the court, but from the bench and supporters. After the saga involving Hwa Chong Institution and Woodlands Ring Secondary, I decided to go down personally to shoot some C Division basketball. In one of the final matches of the day, the Singapore Chinese Girls’ School beat Anglican High 46-23 in another controversial quarter-final match.
The game started off at a relatively slow pace, with both teams sinking just a few shots. It seemed like it might be a close fight between these two relatively strong basketball teams and the quarter ended 6-4 in favour of SCGS. Alana (SCGS, #10) contributed all six points for her team.
Things began to heat up in the second quarter as SCGS went on the offensive. Both teams asserted themselves on court, with Anglican High employing several good defensive tactics. But as play went on, the AHS coach and supporters began to call out fouls committed by the SCGS players which the referee did not call.
The situation worsened as even blatant fouls were left unnoticed. Several fouls were called against Anglican High in the second quarter, giving SCGS many chances to convert. SCGS seized the opportunities and gained five points via free throws. Anglican High, on the other hand, were often left dumbstruck when fouls committed by their opponents were not called.
Throughout the quarter, protests from the Anglican High side increased. Standing by the side of the court, the frustration of the coach was evident as he yelled out his objections. On one occasion the coach and the referee confronted each other and debated several missed calls during the quarter. Others also voiced their unhappiness but the referee appeared to brush off their dissent and continued with his refereeing. Unhappy about being ignored, the Anglican High coach ran out of patience and vented his frustration, earning him a technical foul from the referee when he argued with the referee at half time.
Anglican High only managed to put in two points in this quarter, both from free throws by their #4. SCGS on the other hand scored 14 points, giving themselves a 20-6 lead.
In the third quarter, Anglican High tried their best to recover from the setback. The Anglican High coach sat on the bench calling out instructions to his players, dissatisfaction clearly written on his face. Even team captain Cheryl Boh (AHS, #5), who was recovering from an injury, stood up and yelled at the referee at one point. To his credit, the Anglican High coach maintained team discipline and instructed her to sit down.
SCGS did not take their foot off the pedal, continuing to apply pressure on their opponents even as bystanders silently echoed the fouls which the referee did not catch. SCGS scored six points in this quarter; the beleaguered Anglican High team managed none.
Settling into the realisation that the game was lost, the Anglican High coach retired several players to the bench. As he fielded his other players, the scoring streak by SCGS continued. The Anglican High players were visibly unhappy at the unfair treatment, resulting in some rough play, though overall play continued under control.
By now the game on the other court had ended and all eyes, including those of many senior coaches, were on this unfolding drama. Anglican High kept their fighting spirit strong, struggling to sink in as many baskets as they could. The game ended with Anglican High guns still blazing as they fought back to score 17 points. However, SCGS still triumphed with 20 points scored in the fourth quarter to win the game 46-23.
The top scorer for the match was Alana (SCGS, #10), sinking in a whopping 24 points for her team. This included 6 converted free throws and one 3-pointer. She dominated the match, as the second highest scorers – Gladys (SCGS, #8), SCGS #14 and AHS #14 – put in just 6 points for their team.
In a sign of sportsmanship and respect of the game, the Anglican High coach directed his girls to shake hands with their opponents. The SCGS team, humble in victory, also gave three cheers to AHS after shaking hands. As the AHS team walked off disgruntled, there was no celebration by SCGS. That the game was flawed was perhaps best captured by what the SCGS coach was overheard saying, “Such a simple game, yet it took so long to complete”. This game also generated heated debate in the Red Sports chat box, with many laying charges of biased refereeing.
I am not saying that SCGS didn’t deserve to win. But AHS did not deserve to lose in that manner. A game with two well-matched teams and a result that could have gone either way, was marred by poor judgement calls which caused much unhappiness. Blatant fouls weren’t called, and the clock continued to run even after the referee had blown the whistle or when play had not started. The standard of basketball refereeing in Singapore certainly has room to improve.
Editor’s note: If you recognise yourself or your team mates in any of the photos, feel free to leave the names behind in the comment section and we will update the captions accordingly.