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MANILA, Philippines – UAAP Season 84 commissioner Tonichi Pujante fired back at Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin on Sunday, May 1, after the multi-titled tactician criticized league referees at the Blue Eagles’ game against FEU last Thursday.
In a lengthy, 418-word statement, the new league chief called Baldwin’s remarks – which alluded to the referees needing eye surgery after some alleged bad calls – “unnecessary and derogatory.”
“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,” the American-Kiwi mentor lamented after Ateneo’s win over FEU. “I think the three guys in gray shirts, I don’t know, maybe they need to get what I got, or maybe I shouldn’t have gotten what I got, I don’t know. But it was certainly a different perspective.”
“I like to see that addressed, and we will certainly address that officially with the commissioner,” he continued. “I think we had a bad game, but I think the refereeing crew had a bad game as well. I’ll take care of our team. I don’t know who’s gonna take care of them, so that’s how I feel about it.”
Pujante in his statement said “there are proper channels to air grievances,” and noted the “healthy and constructive interactions” with teams’ post-game reviews.
“We have taken criticisms both fair and unfair, and have never responded, but when Coach Tab 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, for which I take offense,” he said.
“Allow me to counter, and say that he focuses on his team task, and leave the referees to me,” he continued before mentioning that referees are “underpaid, underappreciated, and overcriticized.”
This is not the first time Baldwin criticized UAAP referees this season, and in this particular game, in fact, even his sideline opponent, Olsen Racela, also gave officials a piece of his mind regarding what he also thought was spotty officiating towards the Tamaraws’ foreign center Emman Ojuola.
For his part, Pujante, in the same statement, did admit that some calls toward FEU were of “bad judgement,” and that the official was “reprimanded” for being whistle-happy.
Ultimately, this sideshow will not affect either campaigns of Ateneo and FEU as no sanctions for both Baldwin and Racela were mentioned in the commissioner’s strongly-worded letter.