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The importance of good officiating 



What is the sound of a bad call happening?

First, a swoosh of a linesman’s flag. Then, the whistle sounding off a minute later to signal that a goal has been scored. The scoring team naturally celebrates and the game re-starts. But then silence from both teams amid confusion: the goal is overturned. The foul is called and a free kick is awarded. Play resumes, a few moments pass, and the referee blows the final whistle. “Das spiel ist aust”, as the Germans would say. The game is over.

These were the scenes from the game last August 23 after 90 minutes of regulation and 3 minutes of injury time were played between the Green Archers United-Women’s FC and Sikat FC, two club-level teams taking part in the PFF Women’s Cup at Rizal Memorial Stadium. The morning match-up ended in a controversial stalemate at 1-1 when a last minute own goal from Sikat defender Angelica Martinez was called a goal then subsequently nullified by referee Linjun Talaver.

The 93rd minute own goal, which would have secured a GAU-Women’s victory, was disallowed allegedly because of an earlier foul seen and called by assistant referee Cherry Mae Bernabe.

For further context on the earlier foul, reported in their game recap that the linesman “raised her flag for a foul but then hurriedly put it down.” After which, “the Sikat players on the pitch were up in arms demanding that the foul be called when Talaver suddenly signaled that the goal [in favor of GAU-Women’s] was rescinded.” 

Talaver called the foul then “called for a free kick and then blew the final whistle right after,” said the report.

The GAU-Sikat FC game ended in a draw after a controversial finish

The game is over, GAU-Women’s have filed an official complaint, but some questions linger at that Sunday’s flurry of events.

First and foremost is why was the goal even disallowed when it had already been ruled a goal in the first place? Second, why did the linesman raise her flag, then put it down again, then put it up again?

Some leeway is granted to referees when deciding calls—the referee can confer with other match officials to determine the appropriate call—but did the vehemence on the part of the players for the referee to call the foul become a factor in the flip-flopping decisions? And again, despite the in-game confusion, why was the goal overturned?

According to PFF Women’s Committee official Jowe-Ann Baruga, the match review of the GAU-Women’s and Sikat match-up is on-going, and pending further investigation, lineswoman Cherry Mae Bernabe has been suspended from officiating at least two matches in the PFF Women’s Cup. Now, while we collectively wait for the turn of events that will put the issues to rest, other instances point to inadequacies when it comes to training referees and reviewing their match performance in the country.

Swing and miss – In a separate incident in the PFF Women’s Cup, FEU player Tam Pachejo (left) threw a punch at Ateneo striker Fiona Faulkner (right). Fortunately, the punch missed its target, but unfortunately, the referee missed the call too. Not even a yellow card was issued.

Swing and miss – In a separate incident in the PFF Women’s Cup, FEU player Tam Pachejo (left) threw a punch at Ateneo striker Fiona Faulkner (right). Fortunately, the punch missed its target, but unfortunately, the referee missed the call too. Not even a yellow card was issued.

Earlier this year in the UFL, the Manila Times reported that Ceres La Salle FC head coach Ali Go complained of “bad officiating” after winning against Loyola Meralco Sparks FC. According to the report, “[Coach] Go expressed his dismay despite a compelling 5-2 win against [Meralco]” citing that the referee had called several of their games in the past and noted that there was a pattern of bad calls against Ceres. In 2012, similarly reported an instance of protest against “bad officiating” in the UFL. After an 8-1 loss to Meralco, Nomads Auction Manila coach Michael Denison resigned from his post saying that while “there is no doubt that Loyola are a fantastic team” and deserved the win there are “all kinds of small things that the officials are repeatedly letting go. It’s like we are playing different rules to the rest of the world,” he said, according to the report.

Coach Denison added that while Quality of football is probably 10 times higher than it ever was…that can’t be said about the referees. Worst part is nobody does anything and referees are deciding games right now.

The job of a referee is understandably a difficult one, especially when decisions need to be arrived at with imperfect information. The referee along with the two assistant referees can’t possibly hear everything and see everything that goes on in a pitch with 22 different individuals. Its sports and things happen in the heat of the moment. Human error affected the outcome of the match played last Sunday, and questionable calls happen with alarming regularity in the UFL, but what human effort will take place after the dust settles down?

In the spirit of fair play, officials of the sport have the utmost important task of enforcing the Laws of the Game. I say officials because in the same way that an 11-a side squad is made up of players, they are also enabled by the guidance of a coaching staff and those acting behind the scenes. In sports governance, officials not only include the referees, but also those who ensure that they get the adequate training so that they may improve in their field as well.

The PFF has been commendable in organizing this year’s Women’s Cup with all games held at the iconic Rizal Memorial Stadium, but what measures will be taken to ensure that the league can run its course with the least amount of controversy? It would be interesting now to see how the PFF, the league organizer, will handle the GAU-Women’s complaint, and how the governing body of football in the country will address the obvious need to improve the refereeing infrastructure. The level of play of football is on the rise, but the same can’t be said for officiating.

We need to take officiating more seriously because it is the other side of the model for development: you need good players like you need good coaches like you need good officials.

It may be that “bilog ang bola” and anyone can win in a match, but it is the officials’ job, from the referees and tournament organizers, to make sure the game runs its course with the least amount of outside interference. Let the games be won by the actions of the players and not the mistakes of officials. “Good officiating” can be a subjective term, but in all sports we need those who apply the rules of the game, and we need those individuals to know that their job is important because their actions affect others.

We need to take refereeing more seriously because we take our games seriously.

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Joshua Munzon, Westsports snap Saigon’s streak in highly emotional contest



Photo by ASEAN Basketball League

Entering Wednesday night’s game, Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat were on a high, slaying the winning streaks of Hong Kong Eastern and Nanhai Kung Fu. However, Joshua Munzon and the Westsports Malaysia Dragons had other things in mind, keeping the Heat winless at the MABA Stadium, 91-87.

In his fourth game since returning to the Dragons, Munzon filled up the stat sheet, tallying 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks.

Besides putting up the numbers, the athletic swingman from California helped limit reigning Heritage Player of the Week Williams to his worst game so far in the ABL. Averaging 27.33 points, 6.67 assists, and 6.0 rebounds prior to this game, Williams went field goal-less against the Dragons, missing all 11 of his attempts. The Filipino-American floor general was able to dish out eight assists and grab five caroms.

Westsports led by as much as 11 points in the final frame, 82-71, after Munzon found Marcus Marshall for a triple with 4:59 remaining. Behind World Imports Akeem Scott and Maxie Esho, the Heat stormed right back but was answered by a long bomb by Munzon to keep them at bay.

Marshall and Scott figured in a shootout to close out the game but in the end, the hosts were still able to etch out their second straight victory.

Marshall finished the game with 25 points, nine assists and six rebounds for the Dragons while Scott’s 44-point game went for naught.

After the emotionally charged contest though, few unkind words were exchanged by the officials of both squads that almost resulted into a brawl. Fortunately, things did not escalate beyond that.

In the video, Munzon was also seen shoving a Saigon player to try and pacify the situation. The league is currently investigating the post-game incident.

With the win, Westsports Malaysia raised its record to 3-4 while dropping Saigon to 4-3.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Edward Kelly honored to fight alongside brother Eric



Eric and Edward Kelly lived under the same roof for years in their hometown of Baguio City when they were young and shared the same burning passion in martial arts.

Growing up in the small town community of San Tomas Central, located within the city limits of Baguio, Eric and Edward did not always get along with one another as the two fought all the time, sometimes even resulting in injury.

“We were not that close before. We always fought. In short, Eric and I were headaches to our parents,” Edward recalled in jest.

“But of course, things change when you grow up and mature. We now appreciate each other’s company.”

Fortunately, when the brothers entered high school, Eric discovered martial arts, and everything would change for both of them.

Edward paid attention to the growing accolades of his older brother and was heavily motivated by it.

“I noticed after he started martial arts that it taught him the discipline not to fight me as a brother. Instead, he started giving me advice through what he had learned,” he bared. “I also joined martial arts because it teaches you discipline, and a lot of other positives, too.”

Years later, both men have made remarkable runs as outstanding martial artists in their respective professional careers.

Eric is widely regarded as one of the best homegrown martial arts athletes to come out of the Philippines.

A Wushu practitioner who combines solid striking techniques with high-level grappling skills, Eric owns nine scintillating submissions and one knockout out of 12 total career victories.

Eric’s most impressive showing to date came in a submission win over Rob Lisita in July 2014, a performance that earned him the USD 50,000 ONE Warrior Bonus.

Meanwhile, Edward is considered as one of the best and brightest featherweight prospects to emerge from the well-established martial arts scene in the Philippines.

With a complete striking and grappling skill set, Edward brings Team Lakay’s world-renowned Wushu to center stage as he showcases his impeccable skillset inside the ONE Championship cage.

In addition, the younger Kelly has won three of his last four bouts under the ONE Championship banner, all by spectacular finish.

The Kelly brothers get a rare chance on Friday, January 26 as the siblings will compete side-by-side when ONE Championship holds its first of the four scheduled events in the country for 2018.

Eric squares off with Brazilian standout Rafael Nunes on the undercard of ONE: Global Superheroes, while Edward crosses paths with Cambodia’s Meas Meul in a three-round featherweight clash.

It is the first time both of them will be featured at a ONE Championship event together, and Edward plans to make it a night they will never forget.

“I am so excited because finally, it’s going to happen. It marks the first time that I will compete alongside my older brother. Surely, it’s going to be a memorable night for the both of us,” he said.

“We have the same aim of winning. So making it two for two on this card will make this extra special.”

As Eric seeks to get back on the winning track at the expense of Nunes, Edward is likewise looking to move forward in his career after getting his three-bout winning streak snapped by American stalwart Emilio Urrutia in August 2017.

In his next cage outing, Edward goes up against Meul, a undefeated promotional newcomer with six wins to his credit.

“My coaches has prepared me well for this. I am not going to disappoint my team and my country when I enter that cage on 26th of January,” Edward assured. “I don’t want to let my countrymen down this time. I am here to give them a great bout.

“And of course, win the bout in impressive fashion for them.”

Edward has no qualms if he has to go full three rounds with Meul, but he admitted that his sights are always set on securing the finish.

“I am looking to dominate him for three rounds. But hopefully, I can get the finish,” he vowed.

“A finish will be the perfect way to tell the world that I am back.”

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Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates



Prior to Wednesday, all eyes were on the TNT Katropa-Blackwater Elite face-off, with many curious to see how last season’s Rookie of the Year Roger Pogoy would fare against his former FEU teammates Mac Belo and Raymar Jose.

And as the final buzzer sounded, the 25-year-old Pogoy had reigned triumphant over his close pals, getting away with a conference-best performance as a bonus.

The six-foot-two Cebuano sniper fired a game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting, along with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals, to lead the Texters to a skid-ending, 92-83 victory at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“Must-win talaga namin ‘to para makabawi kami, kasi 1-2 na yung standing namin (before the game) eh.

“Buti na lang maganda yung nilaro ko,” said Pogoy, who was just averaging 11.3 points in the past three games.

But Pogoy tipped his hat to the much taller Elite, who enjoyed plenty of time in the driver’s seat in the first half, until the Katropa found their groove in the third canto — highlighted by a 16-3 rally that put them ahead, 60-53.

“Malakas yung Blackwater eh, tapos ang lalaki nila kaya mahirap mag-drive, mahirap pumasa kasi naagaw nila,” said Pogoy. “Buti na lang naka-adjust kami nung second half. Hindi kami nagmadali, dinahan-dahan namin.”

Aside from his own outing, Pogoy is thankful that they were able to address their fourth quarter woes when facing the Elite — the issue that hounded them in their 76-88 loss to the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday in Iloilo.

TNT had actually been mere steps away from melting down — again — against Blackwater, no thanks to a 20-9 run that wiped out their 17-point lead to just six,

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With Nash Racela knowing his tendencies, Mac Belo limited to poor shooting



Prior to Wednesday, Blackwater Elite’s young star Mac Belo was on a roll early in the 2018 Philippine Cup, averaging exactly 20 points on 42.6 percent shooting in their games against Meralco, Rain or Shine, and Ginebra.

But, as they say, good things must come to an end.

Belo, despite having 13 rebounds, was held to just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting as the Elite bowed to TNT Katropa, 92-83 — a sour loss knowing that they’re coming off huge 94-77 win against Ginebra last Friday.

“Bukol,” said Belo in jest of his poor outing after the match. “Big test para sa’min kasi yung TNT talagang isang de-kalibreng team dito sa PBA.

“Talagang pinaghandaan nila kami, at gustong-gusto nila manalo.”

It also did not help that the Katropa’s head coach, Nash Racela, was his coach in FEU Tamaraws for three years — a relationship brightly highlighted by a championship run in the UAAP Season 78 back in 2015.

“Siyempre alam niya yung mga tendencies ko. Matagal ko siyang coach sa FEU,” said the 6-foot-4 forward.

“Sa akin naman, kailangan ko pa matuto sa ganun, kung anong mga defense binabato niya sakin. Kailangan ko pang pag-aralan.”

But for Belo, the loss was more than his own showing. The 25-year-old lamented his and the Elite’s lapses on defense, which was encapsulated by the second half collapse they had that allowed TNT to come back and steal the win.

“Medyo marami lang kaming lapses especially sa defense namin,” said the sophomore forward, as they allowed TNT to shoot 41.6 percent from the floor. “Maraming mga miscommunication na kailangan pa namin i-work.”

Belo and the Elite are now set to move on from this bitter defeat, as they all shift their sights in their match this Friday versus GlobalPort Batang Pier. For the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart, it is already a must-win for them.

“Kailangan namin ng rest ngayon kasi back-to-back games kami. We need to win sa Friday para okay sa’min,” said Belo. “Kailangan din namin paghandaan kasi galing sila sa win.

“Kailangan namin i-double yung effort namin.”

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