Narvasa rates referees a ‘7’

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - November 19, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa said the other day that while no referee has been suspended for sub-par performance so far this season, his rating of their showing is a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

“The expectation of a referee’s performance is always high,” he said. “Early this season, my rating was a 6 but with almost a month into the Philippine Cup, I think the rating has improved to a 7.”

Narvasa said in overseeing the referees, all he wants is to give every team a fair chance of winning. “That’s what it’s about, giving each team a fair shake,” he said. “We’ve introduced the four-referee rotation system and I think it’s working. The morale of our pool of 16 referees is high.”

Narvasa said he’s keeping an open-door policy with coaches and team officials in listening to their comments on officiating. “This is a collective effort,” he said. “We want a constant exchange of observations and ideas. The participation of everybody is essential in improving the efficiency level of our referees.”

Narvasa said in line with his policy of close communication, he will hear the side of Mahindra player L. A. Revilla on a complaint filed by team manager Eric Pineda against referee Art Herrera over an incident during the Enforcers’ 98-94 loss to Alaska in Dubai last Nov. 6. Mahindra filed a formal complaint signed by alternate PBA governor Tom Alcantara, Pineda and Revilla.

“I’ve heard Art’s side and he denied cursing Revilla,” said Narvasa. “According to Eric, Revilla claimed he was cursed by Art when he complained about a foul call. Art supposedly told L. A. that he’s new in the PBA but he’s already complaining a lot. I’d like to find out if there were witnesses who heard the conversation between L. A. and Art. It could come down to one’s word against the other.”

Narvasa said during the recent Barangay Ginebra-Alaska game in Dubai, Japeth Aguilar was called for a regular foul after elbowing Noy Baclao. “We fined Japeth P5,000 because that’s the penalty for a hit above the shoulders,” he said. “We found no reason to upgrade the regular foul to a flagrant.” In another game, Meralco’s Chris Newsome was whistled for a flagrant foul penalty 2 for throwing an elbow. Narvasa said the cases were different. In Aguilar’s incident, Baclao walked into the elbow. In Newsome’s case, he extended an elbow going for a basket. While Newsome was ejected, he escaped suspension.

“It’s not automatic that if you’re ejected, you’ll be suspended,” said Narvasa. “It’s the commissioner’s prerogative. We are guided by the spirit of the law. We also look at intent.”

Narvasa said this season, referees are calling “deliberate” fouls aside from flagrant fouls. “When a defender makes a play for the man, not the ball, that’s a deliberate foul resulting in two free throws and possession,” he said. “That has also been called an advantage or a breakaway foul. A flagrant foul penalty 1 results in two free throws, possession and a three-minute sit-out. A second flagrant foul penalty 1 on another player of the same team results in two free throws, possession and a five-minute sit-out. A flagrant foul penalty 2 results in two free throws, possession and ejection.”

Narvasa said he hasn’t received feedback from fans on the four-referee rotation system. But that’s a positive sign. If the fans don’t even notice that referees are being substituted during a game, that means officiating is consistent and fair. It’s when fans begin to notice that something is wrong.

On the issue of salaries, Narvasa said now isn’t the time to review the referees’ pay scales. As it is, the budget has increased with the deployment of four referees, three to work a game on the floor. “It’s not up to me to recommend an increase in a referee’s salary,” he said. “It’s up to the referee himself. We will evaluate performance then decide if increases are warranted.”

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