Like players, referees must also be fined.
DID we ever have one referee to officiate a basketball game played whole court?
In my long history of sportswriting, I have yet to see a situation like that. Always, there were two referees at the very least.
Well, in my youth, I played the game whole court with just one referee officiating.
Maybe because we didn't have money for even just one referee to officiate our game?
We were just kids, you know. And where would kids get the money for a referee's fee in the first place?
So, our referees then did it for free.
In those innocent, bliss-laden days, we just played and played and played. Referee or no referee.
No money involved.
Just plain pride in winning. Bragging rights, you know. Ah, that champion feeling.
Just plain prestige for the referee. He could command, you know. That's plain power for you.
But times change-as always.
One referee became two referees. Two heads are better than one?
Not always. Two heads can agree to spoil a game.
Then two referees became three referees. Three heads are better than two?
Not always. Three heads can be downright awfully wrong at a given time, too.
Take last Sunday's game between San Miguel Beer (SMB) and Barangay Ginebra.
Not once but twice, even thrice did all the three referees bungle calls-or non-calls-in unison.
The most glaring was the one on Beerman Chris Ross in the dying seconds of the game.
There was a loose ball foul underneath the SMB goal, with Ginebra up by two with 4.6 seconds left.
Ross was given the ball for two foul shots.
After he missed the first, Ross found himself getting a technical.
The coliseum crowd roared, wondering what the hell was happening.
What happened was Ross wasn't the one fouled but his teammate Chico Lanete.
For Ross's technical, LA Tenorio made both free throws for Ginebra's irreversible 100-96 win before Lanete was allowed to make, miss, his inconsequential charities.
1. Why did Ross go to the stripe when he knew he wasn't fouled at all? He should have declined the chore outright.
2. And why would all three referees commit the same mistake of picking the wrong player to make the charity shots? Six eyes are better than four?
You tell me.
There were other equally serious flaws at officiating in that game that saw SMB's five-game winning streak snapped.
And it came at a time when Willie Marcial, the newly installed commissioner, had promised improved officiating as the bulwark of his inked three-year stint at the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) helm.
I dislike ditching referees with suspensions as I'd rather that I see them fined heavily-as in erring players exacted excessive fines instead of getting grounded.
Wallet-ripping fines will straighten players but not suspensions. If at all, a player's suspension hurts teams more than the suspended player.
THAT'S IT I commend the PBA's new practice of bringing PBA players to barangay basketball arenas unannounced, pleasantly surprising kids with dreams of making it to the PBA someday. The players' surprise arrival is also one concrete proof of bringing the league closer to the masses, who look up to the PBA as their No. 1 sports entertainment. Cheers to Commissioner Marcial!