Mar 28, 2021

PBA refs chief to officiate in Tokyo Games

THE Philippine Basketball Association will be represented in the coming Olympics, with PBA supervisor of referees and technical head Ferdinand "Bong" Pascual nominated to be part of the officiating crew for the men's and women's basketball competition in the Tokyo Games in July.

"Okay 'yon," said PBA commissioner Willie Marcial expressing his full backing on Pascual's nomination.

Pascual had thought the 2019 FIBA World Cup was already his last tour of duty as FIBA ref as he's now 50 years old.

But a change in FIBA rules opened the opportunity for Pascual to be tapped for the Tokyo Games - one of only five Asians.

Pascual is to etch his name in history as he's to become the first Filipino basketball referee to officiate in back-to-back Olympics.

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"It's a great honor and wonderful gift. I'm celebrating my birthday in Tokyo. Eto na talaga ang aking last hurrah dahil di na ako bumabata," said Pascual, turning 51 during the course of the Olympics.

Prior to his Tokyo Olympic task, Pascual will also be part of the officiating crew in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria, Canada on June 29-July 4.

"This Olympics is my last hurrah because of my age, mahirap nang mag-prepara, and because of my commitment with the PBA," said Pascual, the PBA supervisor of referees since 2018.

The Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija native worked games up to the quarterfinals in the Rio Olympics, and has been to two FIBA World Cups (2014 in Spain and 2019 in China).

In the China joust, he was part of the team that officiated the quarterfinal game where France stunned the US team, 89-79. He also worked the bronze-medal game between Australia and France.

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He had nominations in the recent FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers but begged off due to pandemic concerns.

But the Tokyo Games is an event he wouldn't pass up on.

"Baka maapektuhan ang federation natin. And I know this is an honor not just for me but the country," said Pascual.

Before the Rio Olympics stint, Medardo Felipe was the lone Filipino ref to have made the elite group of refs in the Olympics.(SB)