MANILA, Philippines—UAAP Season 84 basketball commissioner Tonichi Pujante called Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin’s comments on the officiating “unnecessary and derogatory.”
Pujante released a statement on Sunday, responding to Baldwin’s remarks after Ateneo’s 70-53 win over Far Eastern University on Thursday.
“We find Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin’s remarks on the three game officials unnecessary and derogatory,” the commissioner wrote. “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.”
“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 added.
Baldwin questioned the calls of the referees last Thursday despite earning their 13th straight win in dominant fashion.
“This year I had eye surgery, and I don’t think it worked. ‘Cause I saw a whole bunch of things out there happening on the court. I think the three guys in gray shirts, maybe, I don’t know. Maybe they need to get what I got, or maybe I shouldn’t have gotten what I got,” said Baldwin. “I’d like to see that addressed, and we certainly will address that officially with the commissioner.“
FEU coach Olsen Racela also had a question on Emman Ojuola’s fouls that limited his presence in the game: “How can you compete against the best team in college basketball without your foreign student-athlete or without your best post player?”
Pujante admitted the third personal foul of Ojuola was a bad judgment call but insisted the first two early calls were clearly fouls.
“As for FEU, they only shot 25% to Ateneo’s 43%. They were awarded 18 free throws compared to Ateneo’s 7. From where we sit, the two early fouls on Ojuola were really clear fouls and were assessed as good calls on our call log,” he said. “Unfortunately, his 3rd foul was a bad judgement call on the part of the referee for which he was reprimanded.”
The commissioner, however, cried foul after Baldwin 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. Allow me to counter and say that he focuses on his team task, and leave the referees to me,” Pujante said. “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.”
Pujante concluded his statement saying, “No one is infallible, including a champion coach. To continue to ridicule us in public would do us no good.”
“Respect begets respect. There is no such thing as “perfect officiating” and even the NBA is not spared. Referees are human just like the rest of us,” he said. “As your commissioner, I vow to ensure civility, parity, transparency, and integrity at all times. I remain.”
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