OFFICIATING, particularly on the centerpiece event of basketball, will be among the top priorities of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 82, which opened earlier this month.
UAAP executive director Atty. Rebo Saguisag and commissioner for basketball Jensen Ilagan said the continuous thrust of improving officiating is a testament to the league’s serious intent of minimizing phantom calls and weeding out incompetent officials.
“Our advocacy is in referee development. I do like our 3Es which is to Educate, Empower and Enable. Importante ‘yun since the referees have long been ignored and abused for the longest time. And misunderstood, by the way,” said Saguisag.
Ilagan, who is also the technical director of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), is the one tasked to handle the sensitive matter and among the innovations implemented this season was adapting analytics for referees’ performance.
Analytics concerns turning raw data into insight for making better decisions and relies on the application of statistics and operations research to quantify and gain insight to the meanings of data.
“We’re going towards the direction of having data and evaluating referees based on data. We have to have basis to be able to support our assertion that a certain referee is performing well or not,” Saguisag said.
Under Ilagan, the UAAP conducted tryouts for its pool of referees in July where a total of 174 officials participated. The numbers were later trimmed to 77 and finally down to 55 which were later divided into teams A and B from which a pool will be made to call the shots for the seniors basketball tournament.
“They all underwent intensive training and part of it includes interpretation of FIBA rules, officiating mechanics, among others. Since Day 1 kasi our main objective is to Educate, Empower, and Enable,” said Ilagan.
Ella Fajardo, who was part of the Gilas Pilipinas girls basketball team that won the bronze in the recent FIBA 3×3 U18 tournament, looked back to the days when she started honing her skills through the Milo BEST Center grassroots program.
According to Fajardo, her parents have made it a point to bring her to the Philippines during summer so she could pursue classes at the Milo BEST, which stands for Basketball Efficiency and Scientific Training.
“I was nine years old when I first joined Milo BEST,” said the 16-year-old Fajardo, who is a standout with the New Jersey Sparks from seventh to ninth grades. “I’ve finished all the levels. Now, my sisters are into it.”
Fajardo played a key role in Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign in Malaysia, which included a stunning 14-11 victory over 2018 champion China in the battle for the bronze. Other members of the team were Kristine Cayabyab, Angel Surada, and Camille Clarin.
“Ella is just one of many players that we’ve produced at Milo BEST, which is the first basketball school in Asia,” said Milo BEST Center founder and chairman Nic Jorge.
Milo Sports executive Lester Castillo said Milo is bent on continuing supporting the BEST program as well as the many other sports under its wings, a sponsorship that covers 20 sports and over 40,000 young athletes in 1,200 venues around the country./PN