In an effort to make Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) games more exciting, the league has tweaked the manner of officiating a bit to make games more action-packed. Some insist that the old ‘No Harm, No Foul’ rule is back though technical director Eric Castro insists otherwise.
“Sabi ko nga sa mga referees na sabihin sa mga players na hahayahan namin kayong maglaro pero di namin kayo hahayaang magkasakitan, yun yung importante,” said Castro in a previous report on Manila Bulletin Sports.
No matter how Castro puts it, the good news is that games are now free-flowing and players are allowed to go out and play for as long as they are within boundaries. The sentiment is shared by most coaches, each asked individually on the changes.
MB Sports Online contributor Ernest Hernandez was able to catch up with coaches Chito Victolero, Caloy Garcia, and Norman Black and get their views.
“I think yung officiating naman so far, okay naman siya. Kung mapapansin mo nga, the players want it and the fans want it. Kung ano man nakikita nila ngayon gusto nila. Up and down basketball, wala masyadong delay. So I think yun naman gusto ng mga Pinoy. Maganda naman para sa liga and so far naman mga players nage-enjoy din. Siguro may kaunti lang kelangan ma-improve, pero the Commissioner works hard naman para mapaganda liga,” said Magnolia Hotshots coach Chito Victolero.
For Rain or Shine’s Caloy Garcia, it was a bit confusing at first since there was no orientation given on the change in officiating.
“Throughout the first games of every team, siyempre madami kaming questions kung bakit ganito, bakit ganoon. Hindi namin alam ito. But na-clarify naman dun sa coaches meeting ni Commissioner (Willie Marcial), nila Eric Castro na this is the kind of basketball we want. So we gave our inputs about the officiating and most of it bumabagsak naman sa consistency ng mga tawag. It’s okay to be physical but for as long as it is part of the game and not to the extent na makakasakit ka,” said Garcia.
Norman Black, someone who experienced the highly physical plays when he was still active, shared similar sentiments. However, he welcomes the change.
“I’m okay with it. I have no problems with it (officiating and how the game is played). Obviously, the way it happened was the commissioner really taking over, not really having much of a chance to really sit down with the teams down and talk on how the games are going to be governed or how the fouls will be called. At the same time, I’m coaching just one team. All of the teams have to adjust to the situation here in the PBA. So my team has to adjust also and the quicker you can adjust the better off you are going to be. But as far as the games are being governed by the Commissioner, I am okay with it.”
For TnT KaTropa coach Nash Racela, he is aware of the physicality and believes that the transition will benefit the fans.
“The PBA allows a bit more physicality but makes it clear that dirty plays are not acceptable. Aside from the excitement it brings to the games, I feel it gives the PBA a level of unpredictability that the fans missed the last couple of years.”
Kia Picanto coach Ricky Dandan welcomes the changes though bats for consistency on the referees calling the action.
“I’m all for what is being implemented right now. Comm. Willie calls it ‘Larong Pinoy.’ Like the rest of the coaches, we’d all like to see consistency in implementation, which I feel is the direction the new officiating philosophy is going.”
Another coach who lived through the ‘No Harm, No Foul’ years is San Miguel Beer assistant coach Biboy Ravanes. Perhaps the best person to ask on the recent PBA rule changes, coach Biboy Ravanes welcomes the flexibility on calls though stressed the need to keep it within the boundaries of playing basketball.
“Okay naman yung changes pero kelangan tutukan ng mga referees,” he said. He cites the ugly confrontation that happened between players Eric Camson of Kia Picanto and Raymond Almazan of Rain and Shine, something he believes that could have been avoided.
“Simula pa lang naman nakita na ng mga ref yun, dapat tinawagan na. There is a fine line naman between playing physical and dirty so nung nagkainitan pa lang, dapat they stepped in.”
Hence, game officials are the ones in the hot seat and need to make sure they have complete control of the game.
“’Di sila dapat matakot at tawagin ang dapat. Kasi kung hindi, magkakasakitan talaga at magkakagulo,” Ravanes adds.
With pressure high on the referees, they need to realize that their failure to keep things in check will result in chaos—the infamous Camson-Almazan fracas a prime example.