UAAP commissioner cries foul over Tab’s ‘eye surgery’ remark

UAAP Season 84 Basketball Commissioner Tonichi Pujante took issue with comments made by Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin and Far Eastern University mentor Olsen Racela regarding the refereeing of matches.

“We find Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin’s remarks about the three match officials unnecessary and derogatory,” the executive said in a forceful statement on Sunday. “There are appropriate channels to air grievances and we’ve had healthy and constructive post-match criticism interactions with most teams.”

“Match officials’ concerns are sent and we deal with them technically and objectively during our referees’ match film viewing session. They raise what they think are missed/bad calls, but may in fact be of good calls or no calls. For our part, we strive and admit mistakes. This has always been more beneficial and productive. Note that calls are recorded and validated with the instant replay system (IRS) and cross-checked with statistics.

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Baldwin blasted the referees after Ateneo’s 70-53 victory over FEU on Thursday and remarked that the men in gray needed ‘eye surgery’.

Racela, for his part, argued that “How can you play the best team in college basketball without your international student athlete or your best post player?”

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‘This year I had eye surgery…I think the three guys in the gray shirts, maybe, I don’t know. Maybe they need to get what I have,” says Tab Baldwin.

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Pujante admitted that the third foul given against Tamaraws center Emman Ojuola was “poor judgement”, but he argued that the first two fouls given against the Nigerian center were “really clear fouls and were assessed as good calls in our call log”.

Pujante also cried foul over what he saw as unfair criticism of officials, particularly when Baldwin said, “I’m going to take care of our team. I don’t know who’s going to take care of them.”

He said: “It’s like I’m not doing my job and for which I take offense. Let me counter and say that he is concentrating on his task as a team and leaving the referees to me. A good tournament requires the cooperation of players, coaches and officials. Refereeing is a thankless job. Referees are underpaid, undervalued and over-criticized. Referees have to make hundreds of decisions in any match in one Fraction of a second.”

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Pujante added: “No one is infallible, including a champion coach. To continue to ridicule us in public will do us no good. Instead, it only casts doubt on the integrity of the league, alienating parties that are supposed to work together. We also take a step back from educating fans when they see our supposed leaders treating officials this way.”

“Respect breeds respect. There is no ‘perfect referee’ and even the NBA is not spared. Referees are human, just like us. As Commissioner, I am committed to guaranteeing the civility, parity, transparency and integrity every time.”

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