CEBU CITY - With the Cesafi finals underway, rarely does the spotlight ever stray away from the players. But on Monday night during Game One, referee Ian Borbe got his share of the attention.
The Cesafi has, for the last four years, delegated officiating duties during the Cesafi finals series to Manila referees in lieu of local ones. According to longtime commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy, this is to protect the local officiating crew from unfair criticism from the coaches as well as from the fans.
“We’re doing this really to protect the integrity of our local referees. Cebu is very small and these referees run into the different coaches at some point or another," said tiukinhoy. "With Manila referees, it’s very beneficial for everyone. The refs don’t know the coaches at pagkatapos ng finals, uwi na sila.”
Problem was, the Basketball Referees Association for Schools, Colleges and Universities (Brascu) has tapped Borbe, a referee who in recent months has come under fire from coaches of both the UAAP and the NCAA.
He was in fact one of the referees handed a suspension by the NCAA for their failure to control the game when a fracas erupted in the endgame of the match between Letran and Jose Rizal University back in July.
Borbe got into hot water when he challenged Letran guard Mark Cruz to a fistfight after the guard complained to him about a non-call in a crucial part of the match.
This led to Letran head coach Caloy Garcia calling for Borbe’s permanent ban from officiating games in the NCAA.
Then in August, University of the Philippine head coach Rey Madrid lambasted Borbe for his “inconsistent officiating” in their 57-73 loss to the University of Santo Tomas, a tirade that led to a two-game suspension.
Still, Tiukinhoy stood firm in his decision to utilize Brascu’s crew.
“I really stand by the integrity of Brascu and the choice of referees of Romy Guevarra,” added Tiukinhoy.
Madrid also did a 180-turn on his previous sentiments and upheld the reputation of Borbe and the rest of Brascu.
“Brascu is a very reputable organization and them being deployed in the Cesafi finals is a testament to their skills and their reputation,” he said.