PBA lady referee Mao Orioste hopes to inspire young girls to never be afraid to try

Mar 12, 2019
PHOTO: Marlo Cueto

MAO Orioste planted a dream in her heart to be a basketball player and fate led her to the PBA.

Not all dreams, though, are bound to happen because the universe had a plan so much better than hers.

The 28-year old Nagcarlan, Laguna native is one of only two female referees in the PBA along with Janine Nicandro.

“Proud po ako sa ating mga kababaihan kasi syempre hindi biro na nagagawa rin po natin ang trabaho ng isang lalaki,” Orioste told SPIN Life after one of the PBA games at the Araneta Coliseum.

“So masaya po kami na nirerepresent namin ang women dito sa officiating kasi very limited lang ang makikita mong referees na babae,” she added.

The former varsity player at Laguna State Polytechnic University revealed that she didn’t plan on becoming a referee.

After college, she was working as a selling supervisor at a popular supermarket chain when Nicandro told her about the PBA’s project to hire female referees.

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From a pool of seven trainees three years ago, they are now down to two.

The job has been fun and exciting but often stressful, admitted Orioste.

“Dapat yung composure dapat kalma pa rin kahit umaangal and nagrereklamo,” said Orioste, who officiated her first game in November 2016.

“I-assess mo lang baka may iba silang perspective, baka feeling nila hindi 'yun dapat tawagan [ng violation]. Pero decisive judgement kasi kami, kung ano ang makita namin, yun ang itatawag ko,” she added.

Now, Orioste feels at peace that, even though she didn’t become a basketball player, her role as a referee in the country’s biggest basketball league serves as an inspiration especially to young girls hoping to break the boundaries and reach for their dreams.

“Yes po [feeling ko inspiration kami] kasi meron mga batang lumalapit sa amin ganyan na humahanga sa amin,” she shared.

“Kaya sa tingin ko nakakapagbigay kami ng inspiration sa kanila na subukan din ang ganitong profession or mag-try ng ibang bagay and maging inspiration din sa ibang tao,” she added.

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“Siguro ito yung way ko na hindi man ako naging basketball player [professionally] at least naging referee ako, naging referee ako sa mga pinakamagagaling na basketball players sa Pilipinas,” she continued.

Orioste has one other wish, for women.

“Nagdi-dream din tayo na magkaroon ng [professional] liga [ng basketball] para sa ating mga babae,” she said.

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PHOTO: Marlo Cueto
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