DECISIVE as he may be, PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa showed his compassion for the two referees his office recently suspended for missing two crucial calls during the Globalport-Barangay Ginebra knockout match for a semis berth in the Smart Bro-Philippine Cup.
Narvasa said he can feel for game officials Rommel Gruta and Edward Aquino, who he had to suspend for the rest of the all-Filipino conference after failing to call a five-second and backing violation on Batang Pier point guard Stanley Pringle in the waning seconds of the do-or-die match.
The failure of both officials to make the right call denied Ginebra a final possession as Globalport escaped with an 84-83 win in overtime to advance to its first ever stint in the semis.
Although there was basis for him to do the suspensions, Narvasa admitted sympathy for his two referees.
“It bothered me a lot doon sa suspension ng dalawang referees. I told Rickie (Santos, the league deputy commissioner) that I don’t know if this is fair, but I have to base my decision on what my predecessors did, kasi out of respect din,” said Narvasa in a chat with reporters just before Game Two of the semifinal series between Alaska and Globalport on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“But I had to make sure that I also had basis on what to do and it has to be done that way.”
As a consequence, the PBA chief said a program designed to improve officiating and the referees’ personalities had to be imposed so as to avoid a repetition of the same mistake again, especially with the season-opening tournament nearing its homestretch.
“Moving forward there must be improvement because now dapat 'yan ang ginagawa natin,” said Narvasa. “We will change it. We have to create a development program if something like this happens again. We should train the referees properly, we should give them dignity.”
Media bureau chief Willie Marcial said instead of condemning them, referees should be given programs, even seminars to improve their craft.
“Parang anak mong nag-aaral. Pag bumagsak ba 'yan, patitigilin mo na sa pag-aaral? Hindi di ba? Dapat bigyan mo ng tutor, turuan mo para sa susunod makakapasa na,” he said.
Ironically, Narvasa said the 12 team coaches gave all referees passing marks at the end of the eliminations, surprisingly, even higher than what the commissioner had given his officials.
“The passing grade among the referees is average,” he said. “And you know, the coaches gave them a higher grade than I did.”