PBA News: Was Rico Maierhofer ‘Shoe’ Block legal or not?

Rico Maierhofer (Wikipedia)
Rico Maierhofer (Wikipedia)
The ability of basketball players to improvise on the fly is what gives this sport its sense of unpredictability. Switching hands in mid-air while going for a lay-up or a last minute euro step to evade the last line of defense is what gives basketball its sense of being counterintuitive—unique and awkward plays which bring a dash of excitement to the game.

However, with the rise of Vines and the increase in popularity of bloopers such as Shaquille O’Neal’s Shaqtin’ A Fool, the lighter side of the game has brought laughter to fans and players alike—serving as a common denominator for both the casual fan and the die hard fans to laugh upon these weird and sometimes stupid mistakes and misfortunes.

When Barako Bull forward Rico Maierhofer used one of his shoes to try and contest San Miguel’s Gabby Espinas’ under goal stab in their matchup last Wednesday, not only did it draw laughs from those watching the game but it also trended virally throughout the internet—even prompting several people to comment that this could be apart of Shaqtin’ A Fool.

However during Barako’s 113-116 defeat against the Beermen, Maierhofer was not slapped with a technical foul or any warning whatsoever for his ingenious play but was just leveled a PHP 20,000 fine for what the PBA deemed as a mockery and disrespect to the game and his unprofessionalism.

Even if Maierhofer has apologized to the league and its fans, the question remains whether or not this play is legal inside the basketball court. According to PBA operations director Rickie B. Santos, Maierhofer’s bizzare defensive strategy was illegal and could have merited a technical foul. It also touches Article 4.4.1 of the FIBA rule book which requires players to use appropriate equipment for the game and that any equipment designed to give a player an unfair advantage is prohibited .

Yet even if Maierhofer was unjustly slapped with a hefty fine instead of a technical foul, it demonstrates his ingenuity and craftiness as a basketball player—making do of the situation and finding a way to help contribute to his team. We would often hear coach’s preaching to run back on defense or to find a way to shut down your opponent. Give Maierhofer credit for doing what he had to do under this unique circumstance.

Basketball has its own unique way of surprising us and it will continue to do so with ‘unfortunate’ plays like these.