AN increasing number of coaches are one in calling for the need to improve officiating in the PBA, saying bad refereeing should not be allowed to spoil the quality of play in the Commissioner’s Cup or put to naught the hard work put in by ballclubs with one blunder.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao felt referees this season need to undergo more extensive training, especially after two game officials had already been suspended by commissioner Chito Salud just three weeks into the import-spiced tournament.
“Cause of concern na iyan (officiating) ever since. Di ako convinced na trained sila (referees) ng mabuti,” Guiao told Spin.ph after the Elasto Painters’ practice on Thursday.
Guiao aired his concern after Salud cracked the whip on another erring official in Allan Balatucan, who was responsible for calling a foul on Meralco rookie Vic Manuel near the half court line while trying to apply pressure defense on Petron’s Marcio Lassiter late in their game on Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-1 Lassiter was sent to the charity line and made both free throws as the Boosters went on to win the match, 88-86, after squandering a 22-point lead at the start of the fourth period.
Balatucan became the second referee to be suspended this conference after Emmanuel Tankion, who incidentally, failed to make a crucial endgame call in Rain or Shine’s heartbreaking 81-83 loss to Alaska on February 9.
Balatucan was suspended for seven days, a sanction that doesn’t sit well with the outspoken Guiao.
“Yung tawag talaga was a stupid call. Nangyayari kasi eh, dine-desisyunan nang referees yung game eh,” he said.
“Saka yung suspension sa referees eh seven calendar days hindi seven playing days according to Willy (Marcial, PBA media bureau chief). Dapat ang basis ng suspension is seven playing days. Eh paano kung mag-brownout or mag-bagyo at na-cancel bigla ang laro? Di mo rin gaano maramdaman ang suspension,” Guiao added.
Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction over the swift action made by the league commissioner, saying Balatucan’s suspension shows that “the PBA is on top of the situation by suspending whistle-happy referees who practically decide the outcome of the game.”
Gregorio said he doesn’t want to be hard on the referees, though his only hope is for his team’s effort every game not to be spoiled by he termed as “game-changing” calls.
“I thought it was a very well-played game. Can I complain (on officiating)? Not too much. Because I know how the referees think. I don’t want to berate them,” said the Meralco mentor.
“I just want them to see that we’re working hard and we don’t want to be a victim of a call that should not have been called. That is how I do things. He (Lassiter) was not in a position to score. He did not lose the ball. He was 40 to 45 feet away from the basket. And he called that foul.
“But again, I don’t want to sound like a bitter person. We still have to control the things we can control,” added Gregorio after his team's third straight loss.
Meantime, Alaska coach Luigi Trillo also appealed for referees to be as consistent as possible every game.
“I suggest that our referees be consistent with their calls. They just can’t make a bad call, and then try to fix that with another bad call,” said Trillo.
“As for us, we just have to play through it (officiating). We just need to be ready. Of course, the PBA just can’t change the referees every conference or they would lose their confidence and commit more mistakes.”