THE alumni group behind the University of the Philippines' men's basketball team reiterated its call for fair officiating ahead of the do-or-die game between the Maroons and the Adamson Falcons in the UAAP Season 81 Final Four.
NowheretogobutUP Foundation (ntgbUP) chairperson Atty. Agaton Uvero aired the call on Tuesday, saying an initial report of referees-consultants hired by the group revealed referees' calls “may have had an impact on the outcome" of the first game between the two teams on Saturday.
The third-seeded Maroons won that game 73-71, to drag the second seeds to a decider for the right to meet defending champion Ateneo in the best-of-three finals.
“This is what we have always been wary of and what we want to avoid. As we said before, win or lose, we just want games that will be decided by the players, not the referees – games that will be won by plays on the court, not by whistles on the sidelines,” said Uvero in a statement released to media offices.
The country's top collegiate league created its own pool of referees starting this season.
However, Uvera said veteran referees tapped by the group s consultants to monitor and evaluate officiating in UP’s games bared “not just the disturbing disparity in the fouls called against both teams, but the quality and timing of the calls that were made.”
“The numbers, we believe, speak for themselves. But what is bothersome is these calls were being made in crucial junctures of the game,” said Uvero.
The group went on to cite statistics from Saturday's game.
It pointed that a total of 25 fouls were called on the Maroons, as opposed to 12 fouls on the Falcons; UP was in the penalty situation in three of the game’s four quarters, while Adamson was never in penalty, the group added; the Falcons were given 31 free throws, compared to UP’s 12, it continued.
The UP alumni group also bared one of the three referees who called the game, Ariel Bermeo, "was once slapped a two-game ban by the UAAP in 2010 for “bad calls” during a controversial game between UP and National University."
"Bermeo was also one of three officials cut by the Philippine Basketball Association in 2013 “for serious repeated lapses in judgment in different games they officiated during the playoffs," the statement added.
The lawyer also urged the UAAP "to consider tapping “third-party observers” to evaluate the performance of its referees, and to adopt the use of technology to track and study the calls made by its officiating crews."
”We believe the UAAP should put an emphasis on improving the officiating and assuring the players and fans that they are doing everything to keep the game pure. This is extremely important to dispel rumors that gambling syndicates allegedly use underhanded methods to influence the results of the games,” he added.