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Pinoy ref in OQT semis

Bong Pascual

Bong Pascual

Gilas Pilipinas couldn’t make it. But there was one Filipino inside the court of the Mall of Asia Arena to preside over one of Saturday’s semifinal games in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Ferdinand “Bong” Pascual, who is set to officiate in next month’s Rio Olympics, got a taste of what’s in store in the Brazilian capital when he served as one of the three referees in Canada’s 78-72 victory over New Zealand.

The Cabanatuan City native and an alumnus of the University of Baguio is no stranger to officiating top FIBA competitions, having done so in the FIBA World Cup in Spain two years ago.

In fact, he recalled one incident when he called Houston Rockets star James Harden for an offensive foul during a United States game in the World Cup, much to the bearded one’s dismay.

“Tinawagan ko siya ng offensive foul, parang hindi niya matanggap. Tinignan niya ako ng eye-to-eye talaga,” Pascual told online sports website Spin.ph last March when he was nominated to officiate in Rio.

He will be just the second Filipino to serve as a referee in the Olympics, after the late Medardo Felipe, who passed away last May, officiated the 1984 Los Angeles Games.