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Austria welcomes officiating changes

San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria has given the officiating modifications being introduced by PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa for the 41st season the thumbs-up sign. Jason Webb, the rookie mentor of the Star Hotshots, meantime, prefers to wait and see.

Narvasa, along with deputy commissioner Rickie Santos and a couple of PBA referees dropped by team practice of the Beermen and the Hotshots to explain the principles that will govern basic calls on fouls starting Oct. 18, the inaugural date for the season-opening Philippine Cup.

Two other ballclubs, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Barako Bull, were also enlightened on changes to be made in officiating under Narvasa’s watch while the eight remaining teams will get their turn within the next two weeks.

“Para sa ‘kin OK yung mga pagbabagong gusto ni commissioner,” said Austria, whose team will be looking to defend its first conference title.

“Sinusunod lang ang tamang rules at regulation. Inaalisan din ng sobrang discretion sa judgment calls ang mga referees; kung foul, tatawagan.”

Being aware that so-called negligible contacts will no longer be ignored, much less hard fouls and shoves especially on the way to the basket, should give players the confidence to take it strong inside more often, Austria said.

“Mabibigyan ang mas maraming players ng chance to shine kasi alam nilang tatawagan na ngayon pag me bumangga o humampas sa kanila pagda-drive o da-dunk sila,” said Austria.

“Dati kasi, kesa mag-drive o mag-dunk yung player, titira na lang sa labas kasi baka matulak lang siya tapos di matatawagan. Ngayon, di na siguro ganoon kaya tingin ko mas lalabas ang talent nila.”

Webb, on the other hand, feels the responsibility of adjusting to the new calls rests on the coaches and the players.

“So sa mga practice games, don siguro natin makikita o mararamdaman yung pagbabago.

Then we adjust,” said Webb, the former De La Salle star who was named to fill up the post vacated by two-time Grand Slam champion Tim Cone when he moved over to Barangay Ginebra.

“Basketball naman, even with the changes, will be basketball; matter of interpretation lang yan,” he said.

“But it was nice for the commissioner to take the time out to meet with the players and explain what he intends to do.

Good to know he’s going to be very hands-on.”

Acknowledging that there’s no quick-fix solution to officiating woes, Webb pledged to show patience and cooperation with the changes the Commissioner’s Office plans to implement next season.

“Wala namang instant dyan e. So we’ll help, work with him,” Webb said.

“Of course, there will be some days that we might not be happy with the calls, ang importante is there’s trust.”

Ever the wit, Webb added laughing: “Of course, there will be mistakes [in the calls] and we can take that…as long as the mistakes don’t happen to us but only to our opponents. Basta sa kalaban lang yung mistakes, okey lang sa’min.”

Meanwhile, Webb bared that renowned shooting and skills coach David Nurse is arriving today to help out with the Hotshots, a job he held last season on the invitation of former Star coach Tim Cone, who hosted the visiting American at his home during the duration of his two-week stay.