The Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) has sent out a statement strongly condemning the attack on two referees in Olongapo earlier this week. Photos of the referees with busted faces and bloodied uniforms, as well as a video of the incident, went viral on social media recently.
"It is most unfortunate that two basketball referees were violently attacked by a player and a supporter in the game at Olongapo City," read the statement from SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios.
"The SBP condemns such act of violence, which definitely has no place in basketball and in sports especially against game officials. The referees are the unsung heroes of any sport, for, without them, no game can be technically conducted and concluded."
According to a report prepared by Ricardo Torres, Secretary General of ZAMBREL, Region 3 of the SBP, at around 9:30 pm on May 18, 2019, during the ET Chairman's Cup game at the East Tapinac basketball court between teams from Purok 5 and Purok 11, Lomell Loyola from Purok 5 was ejected from the game after hurling the ball at one of the referees after disagreeing with a call.
The report said that referees Nathan Agbalog and Michael Angelo Caseja requested that Loyola be escorted out of the playing court. However, Loyola's teammates allegedly continued to harass the referees, and the said player later on appeared on the playing court holding an unidentified object which he used to attack Caseja. Agbalog, the other, referee was also seen in the video that went viral on Facebook with blood oozing from his face.
The two referees were brought to the hospital by Barangay Tapinac officials who also probed the said incident. The attackers were said to have issued an apology, which was not accepted by the two referees as they plan on pressing charges.
"SBP Regional Director for Region 3 Gil Cortez traveled to Olongapo City to look into the matter and extend assistance to the referees concerned as well as to meeting with local authorities so that the case can be proactively pursued," Barrios' statement continued.
"We trust that there will be no repetition of this ugly incident and we call on the basketball community simply to play and support the game according to its merits at all times."