CHANGSHA, China – Norman Black describes the officiating during the final of the Fiba Asia Championship as ‘horrible.’
But at the same time, he said Gilas Pilipinas’ 78-67 loss to China in Saturday’s title game was also the consequence of the team not playing its best game when it mattered most.
“We’re not gonna put all the blame on the referees. We also have to look squarely in the mirror and look at how you played and determined whether it was your best game or not,” said Black in the aftermath of the country’s second straight runner-up finish in the biennial meet.
“Sometimes to win a championship you have to bring your best in the (championship) game to get the victory.”
Black acknowledged Gilas didn’t shoot well both from the field and the foul line, something it can’t afford to do against a team as disciplined as China.
The multi-titled coach even declared Gilas would need to play a flawless game to beat the mighty Chinese.
“For you to beat them here you have to play almost a flawless game, you have to shoot the basketball well, you have to rebound well, you’ve got to defend well, you’ve got to make your foul shots, and you have to take the referees out of the equation. And we did not do that,” said Black, who serves as one of Gilas coach Tab Baldwin’s deputies.
In contrast, the Chinese according to Black, played very well.
“I think it’s a combination of us not really playing our best game in the tournament which is what we really need to do,” said the former Detroit Piston. “And at the same time, I thought they (Chinese) played pretty well. They are a good team, there’s no question about that. China has a good team.”
But Black did acknowledge Gilas’ failure to get a fair shake from the referees somehow affected the players’ psyche.
“It’s horrible. I’m sure it was (big effect of officiating). We complain a lot about the referees in the PBA. I know a lot of NBA people who consistently complaint about the NBA referees. That’s part of the game, that’s part of it. We’re here in China so you don’t really expect to get any calls to begin with,” said Black, who flew back to Manila ahead of the Gilas team.
Asked if he ever experienced the same when he was part of the coaching staff of the first ever all-PBA team to play in the Asian Games in Beijing 25 years ago, Black said the experience then was different from today.
“I don’t think it was really a factor (in Beijing) because unlike today when the game was pretty close the game was always within reach," he said.
“In Beijing we weren’t in the game. We were blown out right almost from the start so the referees never really became a factor.”