Seeing the game through the eyes of PBA referees

It's not easy being a PBA referee. They earn the ire of not only coaches and players when they make wrong calls, but referees also feel the brunt of the anger from fans.

PBA technical consultant Joey Guanio said they made strides over the past six months doing not only Zoom workouts but reviewing the PBA rule book and games as well.

"We hold video reviews for referees' past games. Bong [Pascual] would try to give information about mechanics and positionings. Ako naman yung coaches' standpoint. Ano ba gusto ni coach sa play na 'to, saan madalas so the referees can react well in their mechanics sa loob ng game," Guanio said on Sports Page on Wednesday.

Bong Pascual, the PBA technical head and supervisor, also said it was important for referees to understand the coaches' perspective.

"Talagang kailangan namin maituro ng maayos sa mga referee natin kung papano talaga yung positioning, yung contact situation, ano perspective na nakikita ng coaches. Kung tatawagan ba natin 'to, mag-aagree ba si coach? Kaya kung minsan nagtatalo kami ni Coach Joey," Pascual shared.

Joel Baldago, who made the transition from officiating in the college circuit to the professional league, said he still remembered PBA analyst Andy Jao's advice to speak to coaches whenever he makes mistakes.

"We're only human beings. Sometimes we commit mistakes. Dun kami matututo sa pag-accept ng mistakes namin. Malaking bagay na na-aappreciate kami ng coaches pag sinasabi ng referees na nagkakamali sila," he said.

Baldago said he still wanted to continue his PBA officiating career despite not so savory moments, such as being pushed by Talk 'N Text import Terrence Jones during his tussle with Calvin Abueva last year.

Marilee Orioste, who has worked at least three years in the PBA, admitted she is still somewhat intimidated when calling out fouls.

"Nung una iniisip ko din, papakinggan ba ko ng mga 'to? Kailangan iimpose yung authority namin, kausapin sila ng maayos para mapaliwanagan and eventually ma-realize nila, matulungan sila, ma-educate sila na eto yung parameters. If you will listen and obey, less fouls, less infractions, makakalaro ka ng maayos," she shared.

Orioste added that she tries to remain open with veteran coaches.

"Ang ginagawa ko po is sinasabi ko yung nakita ko sa pwesto ko. Kung may nakita sila, 'Okay coach, titignan ko sa review, baka tama ka mali ako.' Binabalikan ko sila, aaminin ko mali ako. Minsan, tama din ako. Tinatanggap naman po nila na chineck namin sa video," she added.

This open communication with coaches was something that Guanio emphasized with referees especially inside the PBA bubble.

"From a coach's standpoint, I think very important yung communication between referees and coaches. Ma-iimpart ng coach yung mga daing niya and yung referee naman ine-explain kung bakit, 'Coach di ko nakita' o 'Kasi ito talaga nangyari," Guanio said.

Pascual said they were also constantly shuffling referees inside the bubble depending on their performance. Having a fourth referee as a substitute per game also considerably minimized wrong or missed calls.

"Nale-lessen yung pagkakaroon ng mistake. Nape-pressure referees natin, 'di maiiwasan. Depende rin sa angle niya, natakpan, mali yung pwesto niya. Nase-save yung game dahil meron tayong isang referee na pwede pumalit muna para ipahinga yung isa," Pascual shared.

The NBA recently implemented a coach's challenge when it held its playing bubble in Florida. Like PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, though, officials don't see it happening in the local league.

"As of now, andami nating mga reviewables. I think for now, marami nang nagagawa yun for the improvement of the game," Guanio said. "Right now, the nuances and reviews na ina-allow natin, tingin ko okay na yun for the meantime."

Pascual also made an appeal to fans for understanding.

"Pinapangako namin sa fans na gagawin ng technical, ng referees ang lahat ng kanilang makakaya para matapos ng successful ito, para kung magkaroon ulit ng panibagong bubble at least may idea na kami, alam na ang gagawin namin," he vowed.

"Pagagandahin natin ang officiating. Pipilitin natin yan, maniwala lang kayo sa sarili niyo, kakayanin natin 'to. Tuloy ang laban," Pascual told the referees.