Sports Eye

Blame the referees first

By Jesus A. Garcia, Jr.

THE much-awaited rematch for the 2019 FIBA Asia/Pacific World Cup Qualifiers between Australia and Philippine national basketball teams held last Monday (July 2) showed the worst in everyone. The free-for-all could have been prevented if the three international referees assigned by the world governing basketball body FIBA did their job well, but that did not happen. Being the host, our country’s image in the field of sports was tarnished and that of the visiting Aussies was tarnished as well.

FIBA is expected to mete heavy penalties against the erring players, four from Australia and nine from Philippines after a hearing and review of the game. What concerns me now is whether the incident will affect our basketball participation in the Asian Games next month in Jakarta in view of the expected suspension of our nine nationals namely, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Terence Romeo, Japeth Aguilar, Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva, Andrey Blatche, Carl Bryan Cruz and Matthew Wright.

I watched the match closely on TV and I saw tension was already high with some trash-talking, taunting among some of the opposing players during the warm-up period which I believe the referee saw and heard but they just shrugged it off. We already saw Aussie Daniel Kickert almost got into a scuffle against Gilas cagers prior to the game. Worse, when the match already became very physical, the referees did not step in when they should have warned the players about the felt hostility among them. And when the free-for-all ensued, the referees who were supposed to be the first to pacify the players, were nowhere to be found. Cowards and irresponsible.

The basketball match turned into basketbrawl. To make the situation worse, some fans got involved in the melee. That happened in the third quarter, 4:01 minutes left, with the Aussies having an insurmountable lead of 31 points, 79-48.

As expected, the three referees went to a room and reviewed the video clips in various angles. They returned to the hard court minutes later and announced the 13 ejections of players. The match continued with only three Gilas players playing (Fajardo, Norwood, Amer) while the Aussies still had five. When finally Gilas had only one player left on the floor, referees stopped the match (according to FIBA rules) before the third period ended, with the Aussies winning the match, 89-53.

The Aussies won the first encounter against Gilas, 84-68, last February 22 in Melbourne with no unpleasant incident. What happened last July 2 was really a ‘black eye’ for Philippines knowing that our country is known for its hospitality.

“The three referees should have been the first to be blamed for their lapses,” said Cris Clata of Mangaldan. “The game should not have turned into a brawl if their reflexes and senses were quick..  FIBA should reprimand them, too,” he added.

I agree. Let’s just wait for the verdict of the world basketball authority.

But don’t you remember that Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao lost last year his World Boxing Organization welterweight title to Australian Jeff Horn on July 2, also? Is it a jinx or just a coincidence? It’s a twist of fate. Amen.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” EXODUS 20: 7

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