As Marcial trims refs pool to 10, Pardo airs hope PBA Finals will be free from 'lousy calls'
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial says only eight to 10 of the league's best referees will be on the pool of officials for the SMB-Magnolia finals. Jerome Ascano

THE PBA assured the fans and the Philippine Cup Finals protagonists of nothing but the best officiating in the best-of-seven title series that unfolds on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

While the league has gone back to its no-harm, no-foul principle that fans have loved, there have still been some questionable calls that drew the criticism of personalities in the semifinals, especially NLEX coach Yeng Guiao and San Miguel Beer star Arwind Santos.

But new commissioner Willie Marcial has promised to field only the best referees in the finals, noting that they have already pruned their roster of game officials from 18 in the eliminations, to 12 in the quarterfinals, to just 10 in the semifinals.

And that lineup could even be shortened in the title series between SMB and Magnolia.

“Tinitingnan na lang namin kung walo hanggang sampu na pinaka magagaling na referees namin,” Marcial said in the finals press launch at Sambokojin Eastwood on Wednesday.

“Gine-grade namin yan, so ang pinaka-matataas na grade ang isasabak namin sa Finals,” he added. “Para walang masabi ang dalawang teams na ito lalo na ang mga coaches.”

Marcial explained that his technical committee, led by league deputy director for basketball operations Eric Castro, grades the referees each game and hands him the Top 10 officials to choose from.

“Hindi lang sa grade, titingnan ko din yung composure nila, kung papaano sila mag-desisyon. Ako naman yun,” Marcial said. “Kung paano sila pag nape-pressure o pag last two minutes, nasa akin naman yun.”

And Magnolia governor Rene Pardo is requesting that those best referees would just bring the best out of the players.

“Hinihingi namin sa commissioner and referees to let both teams play at their best,” Pardo said. “Wag nilang hadlangan with lousy calls. Let the fans enjoy the game.”

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