President of the Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF) Nigel Hinds released a statement delving into the issues that plague basketball especially after the disastrous end to the Road to Mecca III National Club Basketball Championship that ended in a no-contest on Saturday evening at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.
The Retrieve Raiders (in grey) walk off the court while the Bounty Colts look on in bewilderment
In the letter, Hinds apologised to the fans and sponsors while highlighting the poor officiating of the referees.
The GABF boss also expressed hope of having the teams play the final at a later date.
Here is the full letter in detail:
The Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF) deeply regrets the fact that the 2016 National Club Championships Finals: Colts versus Raiders was halted in the 4th quarter of the game, for this we apologize to our fans and sponsors.
The 2016 National Club Championships – Road to Mecca III was played with a high degree of competitiveness and was presented to the Guyanese public with the intent of keeping high standards, maintaining discipline and providing a great experience to the supporters of Basketball. Fans filled the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall on Saturday, March 19th to watch the high powered and high quality game.
The GABF was on the verge of attaining these goals when during the fourth quarter of the finals, an unwarranted (as per the video replay) foul call made by one of the referees, followed by three technical fouls from the same referee against Retrieve Raiders, a club based in Linden, resulted in an exciting and competitive game coming to a premature end.
When the initial foul call was made, Colts were ahead by three points during the last segment of the fourth quarter, so it was vitally important that during this stage of the game that calls by referees are warranted, even more so during the deciding period of a high intensity, competitive finals, with the winner receiving $500,000.
Having the good fortune of E-Networks filming the Finals allowed for a review of the video of the initial call by the referee. It was clear to all who viewed the initial foul call that it was unwarranted and absolutely not a foul. All who viewed the replay, including Mr. Dexter Douglas (President Guyana Basketball Official Council) and one of the finals game referees: Mr. Rawle Toney, another experienced referee, and countless others including myself, were of the view that no call should have been made by the referee.
Just as a motorist should not be penalized by the police for not stopping at a green light, a foul call should not be made against a player for catching an uncontested rebound. Moreover, if the driver expresses his or her mild objection to the stop by the police officer, and as a result of this objection the driver receives a traffic ticket; it is an abuse of authority by the police officer – I think Freddie Kissoon will agree with this point.
The ensuing technical fouls after the initial call were seen to be highly questionable, except for the last technical foul, as the foul call created a disrupted state of affairs that was virtually impossible to continue – with teams leaving their bench before the game was over, among other infractions.
As much as we cannot condone indiscipline, errant calls by referees should not be given a pass merely because the person making the call is a referee.
Games between Linden and Georgetown or between top-ranked clubs from Linden and Georgetown are competitive as has been the case over the last eight months, resulting in the most thrilling and competitive basketball Guyana has to offer. Thus, referees have to be “thick skinned” and recognize that Basketball is a players’ game.
Referees ultimately have to at all times recognize that sports are a stage for the players to perform and that the important role for referees and umpires is to ensure compliance with the rules.
Referees have been the targets of harsh and insulting attacks from coaches, players and fans of the sport, both on and off the court. The GABF will have to put measures in place to eliminate or significantly mitigate the occurrence of abuse targeting referees. The problem is not limited to games between Linden and Georgetown, where some referees refuse to officiate, but also extends to Inter-Association games. Coaches and players disgrace the sport of basketball by insulting, berating and ridiculing referees. This practice must stop.
The GABF will meet shortly to resolve this matter in the best interest of our affiliates, sponsors, clubs, fans and the image of basketball in Guyana.
My expectation is that the 2016 National Club Championships Finals will be replayed using the best referees locally and from the Caribbean region.
Alan Dershowitz noted in his book Supreme Injustice “ In order to be fair, justice must be blind – not to the facts, the law, or even the policy implications of its decisions, but most certainly to the name and party affiliations of the litigants.
Likewise, we in the GABF have to ensure that our affiliates act in a manner that is fair and impartial.