UAAP Season 84 Basketball Commissioner Tonichi Pujante responded to the grievances made by Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin and FEU head coach Olsen Racela regarding the officiating of their game last Thursday.
“Isa lang tanong ko: how can you compete against the best team in college basketball without your foreign student-athlete or without your best post player?” said Racela as his big man Emman Ojuola fouled out of the game.
“I’d like to see that addressed and we certainly will address that officially with the commissioner, because I think we had a bad game. But I think the refereeing crew had a bad game as well,” said Baldwin.
“I’ll take care of our team. I don’t know who’s gonna take care of them. That’s kind of how I feel about it.”
Though admitting that the referees who called the game made some errors, he raised that there are proper avenues to raise concerns.
“We find Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin’s remarks on the three game officials unnecessary and derogatory.
“There are proper channels to air grievances and we’ve had healthy and constructive interactions with the post-game reviews with most of the teams,” said Pujante. “Game officiating concerns are sent which we address technically and objectively during our referees’ game film viewing session. They raise what they think are missed/bad calls but can actually be good calls or non-calls. For our part, we man up and admit mistakes. It has always been more beneficial and productive.
“Note that calls are logged and validated with the Instant Replay System (IRS) and counterchecked with stats,” he continued.
Pujante would explain that the early fouls called on Ojuola in the opening frame were ‘clearly’ fouls.
Pujante though did not take too kindly to Baldwin’s remarks regarding it is his job to take care of his team but it is the commissioner’s responsibility to do the same to his officials.
“We have taken criticisms both fair and unfair and have never responded but when Coach Tab said: ‘I’ll take care of our team. I don’t know who’s gonna take care of them’ it is as if I am not doing my job and for which I take offense,” said Pujante.
“Allow me to counter and say that he focuses on his team task, and leave the referees to me.
“A good tournament requires the cooperation of the players, coaches and officials. Officiating is a thankless job. Referees are underpaid, underappreciated and overcriticized. Referees have to make hundreds of decisions in any single game in a SPLIT SECOND. No one is infallible, including a champion coach. To continue to ridicule us in public would do us no good. Instead, it only casts doubt on the integrity of the league, alienate parties that are supposed to be working together. We are also taking a step back on fan education when they see our supposed leaders treat officials this way,” he continued.
Pujante would close his statement by saying that everyone in the UAAP community should be responsible for each other to create a dynamic environment.
“Respect begets respect,” he said. “There is no such thing as ‘perfect officiating’ and even the NBA is not spared. Referees are human just like the rest of us. As your commissioner, I vow to ensure civility, parity, transparency, and integrity at all times.