RAIN or Shine coach Yeng Guiao welcomed the PBA’s decision to crack the whip on an erring referee, saying the swift action is a “step in the right direction” in improving officiating in general.
“At least, they (Office of the Commissioner) are doing something about it (officiating). That’s a positive sign,” Guiao told Spin.ph on Wednesday after being informed of the league’s decision to slap a five-game ban without pay on referee Art Herrera.
Herrera was one of the referees who officiated in Rain or Shine’s 99-86 win over Meralco in the opener of their best-of-five semifinals series which was marred by the refs' controversial decision to nullify a three-pointer made by Gabe Norwood, even if it clearly beat the shot clock.
In a statement released earlier, the league explained Herrera, a Class A referee, made ‘an error in mechanics and judgment’ in changing the call on Norwood's trey.
Guiao, however, said there is still much to do to improve officiating, citing the ‘increased physicality’ in the playoff games which he claims the referees allow.
In particular, Guiao cited an incident in the third quarter of Rain or Shine’s game against Meralco when guard John Wilson was caught on television hitting sophomore Jeric Teng in the face at midcourt just as Cliff Hodge scored on a layup.
The outspoken mentor pointed out Wilson should have easily been slapped a flagrant foul penalty one for hitting Teng during that play.
“Masyadong marami na rin yung mga physical contacts na hindi na din natural basketball movement just like yung last night na napanood ko sa replay yung ginawa ni Wilson kay Jeric Teng sa may halfcourt. It was clearly at least a foul or a flagrant foul at that,” said Guiao.
“Again, the referees let it go, so sa amin, konting galaw, flagrant (foul) na 'yun tapos saka na lang ida-downgrade to a regular foul if ever. Pero kay Wilson, they can let it go as if it was a normal basketball action,” he added.
But Guiao clarified his critical approach to officiating over the past seasons was never intended to put the league in a bad light.
Like coaches and players who are being evaluated based on their performances by their respective mother teams, Guiao said referees should also be put ‘under the microscope.’
“It’s never a bad sign to put officiating under a microscope because just like players and coaches, we are all judged by our performances. Eh mas mataas pa nga dapat sa mga referees yung qualities and standards,” said the 55-year-old coach, who also serves as representative in the first district of Pampanga.