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Marcial challenges refs to own up

MANILA, Philippines — PBA OIC commissioner Willie Marcial said yesterday he wants referees to be decisive in making calls and hold to a minimum the option of turning to the video replay machine in confirming whether a foul is regular, deliberate or flagrant.

“It’s a goal to lessen video reviews to speed up the game,” said Marcial. “We don’t want referees to constantly rely on the video machine. We don’t want to baby the refs. They’re accountable. If they make a call and a coach asks for an explanation, they can’t just walk away. They must stand up for their calls. It’s like the police when they decide whether or not to engage a suspect. If they discharge a firearm, they’re answerable for the consequences. If it’s necessary to look at the video replay, we also want to speed up the process and avoid delays. The fourth referee at the sideline can review the play so he or she can give an expert opinion. The delay comes in only when the referees ask for different angles and there is a wait for the feed.”

Willie Marcial. Philippine Star photo
The conscious effort to speed up the game has resulted in dropping the average time in playing a contest from 2:20 to 2:08. So far this conference, the shortest finish time was 1:52 in the San Miguel Beer-Meralco contest last Dec. 27. The longest was 2:13 in the Phoenix-Kia duel on the same bill.

Marcial said the PBA technical committee, headed by Eric Castro, is in the process of consulting coaches on revisiting the league’s officiating philosophy. He added that if there is a change in philosophy, it will be cleared with the Board of Governors. The next Board meeting is set on Jan. 25.

“We want to let the players play,” he said. “We want to bring back what we call gulang or abilidad of our players. We don’t want to discourage displays of emotion. We want emotions to flow. But we won’t condone name-calling, cursing, bad-mouthing or showing disrespect to referees or league officials. We’d like to allow a little more physicality and letting go incidental or light contact on a normal basketball move. Of course, if the defensive player impedes the movement of an offensive player, uses extremities to block or bang, then we’ll be guided by the rules as always. We know basketball is a contact sport so we won’t be able to take out the physical nature of the game. However, we will not tolerate rough or dirty play.”

Author: Joaquin Henson, Philippine Star
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