In a sport like basketball, wherein emotions are high and the intensity levels go up a notch, referees or the middlemen of all things sports should always be on their toes. Basketball referee Wenifredo Dalimocon Jr. has been making the calls for 29 years and perhaps he has seen it all. From the collegiate level all the way up to the now defunct Philippine Basketball League (PBL), Dalimocon recalls some of his experiences in the sport.
Recognized as “the veteran” by his colleagues, Dalimocon can be seen officiating the La Salle Athletic League (LSAL) games held at the Enrique M. Razon Sports Center. The LaSallian caught up with him as he shared his thoughts on the high and lows of the job while also sharing another perspective on the Lasallian brand of basketball.
All Eyes on Me
The seasoned veteran stayed in the PBL for seven years and places this stint as one of his top moments in his career. “Medyo hard lang minsan ang mga games kasi masyadong physical, masyadong mataas yung emosyon. Yung level of competition napakataas, punong-puno ng emosyon yung mga laro,” Dalimocon said.
“One miss, you die” is how Dalimocon describes the feeling of officiating high competition games even at the collegiate level. With both teams wanting the calls going their way coupled with a divided and intense crowd, it’s a different kind of pressure he encounters in each game.
“Isang pagkakamali mo diyan, baka i-request ka ng mga team na wala ka na next game,” he said when asked about the responsibility of officiating games.
Calm and Composed
With basketball seen as a beloved sport in every corner of the Philippines, the emotions of both the players and the fans could take its toll. When tension rises, referees take action and have to make the crucial decisions that more often than not play a part in the game’s outcome.
“Kailangan ano ka dyan, smart. At tsaka focused ka sa game. Hangga’t maari, wag kang magkakamali. One miss, you die nga diba. Pagka-ganyan puno na ng emosyon yan. Kailangan ang putok [in-game calls] mo diyan puro klaro, talagang convincing. Tsaka yung mga importanteng dapat tawagan, dapat tawagan talaga,” the veteran official said.
However, to Dalimocon, it’s a different story when it comes to dealing with coaches rather than players. He tries his best to please both coaches with precise and good calls favoring them and their teams.
Although his job gets a lot of recognition on the court, Dalimocon recounts his worst experience as a referee and how ironic it was that it happened outside the hardwood. “Yung pinaka-worst namin is yung pinagbantaan kami after ng game, akala naming na papapatayin na kami,” he recalled.
Lasallian Brand of Basketball
Dalimocon has had his fair share of being in the same court with some Lasallians, and he did not hesitate when asked if he could identify which players donned the Green-and-White. In his 29 years of officiating basketball games, he had already noticed the brand of basketball DLSU was known for.
For Dalimocon, Lasallian players are among the more disciplined players he has shared the court with. He went on to talk about how he officiated the 1997-1998 season of the UAAP wherein FEU had beaten DLSU in two games.
“I’m sorry to tell you but I’m the one who officiated the championship game between FEU and DLSU. Sad to say, La Salle really did lose the game to FEU,” he said.
“Ang klase ng game ng mga Lasallista is basically complete. May fundamentals, may basics tsaka yung discipline importante,” he added. “Di kagaya sa mga ibang school, mga arogante yung laro. Dito, wala kang masasabi. Pagka nakita ko yung sportsmanship at disiplina, yan yung tatak ng La Salle basketball.”
Nowadays, Dalimocon spends his time officiating games for the LSAL tournament. After his years at the biggest stages of Philippine basketball, he now focuses on smaller yet still highly competitive leagues. “I’ve been here for almost four years, at wala naman bad encounter,” he said.
Before ending his day, he takes a look at the basketball courts in the 7th Floor of the Enrique M. Razon Sports Center, where he witnessed many players come and go. When asked how he would assess the level of play of LSAL compared to the bigger leagues he’s called, he doesn’t deny that both the passion and understanding for the game remains relevant.
“Maraming may potential dito sa LSAL. Kasi sa nakikita kong kilos ng mga player at galaw, kumpleto na e. Naroon yung flexibility, yung quickness, at yung consistency. Bibigyan nalang yan ng konting fundamentals tsaka guidance ng coach, hinog na yan,” Dalimocon concluded.