The PBA brought sixteen referees for its season resumption inside the bubble at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, but only seven called Wednesday’s Philippine Cup double-header games.
Eight refs are currently under quarantine after coming into close contact with a fellow game official suspected of testing positive with COVID-19 — the first-ever case reported inside the bubble.
The seven left behind should have been eight, but Sherwin Pineda has been sent home following the wrong call he made late in Rain or Shine’s 70-68 win over NorthPort last Sunday.
With the limited manpower, one referee, Jeffrey Tantay, had to officiate both games, which featured NLEX versus NorthPort and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel up against Phoenix Super LPG.
Tantay joined Peter Balao, Mardy Montoya, and Mike Flordelize in the Road Warriors-Batang Pier match. He then hit the court anew with Jimmy Mariano, Dacx Dacanay, and Joel Baldago in the Gin Kings-Fuel Masters tiff.
And that might be the set-up in the coming days.
“Kausap ko sila kanina bago magsimula. Sinasabi ko sa kanila na naka-quarantine ‘yung walo eh, pito na lang ang tatakbo. Back-to-back talaga sila hanggang Sunday,” said Commissioner Willie Marcial in a press conference on Wednesday night. “Kasi sa Sunday pa naman natin malalaman ‘yung resulta [nung mga naka-quarantine].”
Help is on the way, though, as Marcial said that he has called up the other referees left in Manila to come over to the bubble and fill in the gaps. But they will have to wait again, since they all have to undergo protocols upon arrival.
“Meron tayong lima sa lineup, pinapapunta ko na ‘yung two to three referees na makaakyat na rito sa’tin,” said the third-year league commissioner. “So katulad pa rin ‘yun [nung ginawa natin pagdating] — may mga quiarantine, self-isolation, so hihintayin natin. Kung anong protocol na ginawa natin pagpasok, ‘yun din ang gagawin nilang protocol.”
For now, Marcial will do what he can to take care of the seven refs.
“Tinitignan namin na ‘yung tatlo na lang, at bihira na lang pumasok ‘yung alternate referee para makalaro sa second game. Pero apat pa rin [per game],” he said as four refs — crew chief and three umpires — are utilized a game.
“Parang team, pine-pace na natin ang mga referee.”