Fixing the real problem
Controversies continue to hound the UAAP as the games get more and more intense. As the Final Four nears, every game now counts, except those of Adamson and University of the Philippines.
It is in these highly emotional games where we see each team step up, and it is very crucial that officiating keeps up with the level of play.
But instead of improving, we find that the officiating continues to take a downward spiral. Maybe we are expecting too much from the present batch of referees, who are grossly underpaid and, perhaps, not yet ready to officiate games that have so much at stake.
On top of that, these referees are at risk of getting suspended if they officiate poorly.
Refereeing is a tough and thankless job. The referees are under so much pressure to make the right calls in the quickest way they could. It may also be well worth the time of the UAAP board to determine if the league’s referees are being fairly compensated.
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During my time in the PBA in the late 1970s, the late great commissioner Leo Prieto made a bold move when the stakes got higher in the PBA Finals.
He did the unthinkable.
Prieto hired NBA referees to come to town to officiate the games. In doing so, he tried to leave no room for doubt as to the integrity and intention of the calls.
Perhaps the UAAP can take a cue from what Prieto pulled off way back. Now that the race for the Final Four is as tight as ever—with six teams slugging it out and no clear leader in sight—why not consider this as an option?
If they go for this option, it’s best to invest money in the off-season to give their regular referees better training. If there are camps for players and coaches abroad to improve their skills, the Fiba (international basketball federation) has the same thing for officials.
Fiba.com lists the numerous countries where Fiba holds clinics for referees. Maybe this is something the SBP can invest in as well after doing an excellent job in hosting the Fiba Asia Championship.
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