Fighting Maroons head coach Bo Perasol was not immediately available for comment in the aftermath of his charges’ loss to the Blue Eagles the other day. No doubt, he needed more time to gather his thoughts; not quite halfway through the third quarter, he went through a wave of emotions that belied his usually calm self and led him to confront referee Jaime Rivano in the middle of the court. Two technical fouls and an ejection later, he became even more upset and had to be restrained and escorted to the locker room.

A chastened Perasol later appeared to issue profuse apologies, rightly arguing that “I have to think about my composure because that it what I preach. And I was the one who lost it.” He was triggered, to be sure; one minute and 57 seconds into the second half, he saw top player Bright Akhuetie called for a third foul he felt was undeserved. And to add insult to injury, a fourth one followed soon after off a technical Rivano called even though the reigning league Most Valuable Player was already walking away. “For me, you cannot provoke a player and follow him up to the end of the court.”

All the same, Perasol was wrong to charge at the official — a challenge to authority that, unfortunately, figures to hurt the Fighting Maroons even more. It was bad enough that his outburst prevented him from doing his job in the crunch the other day. As Akhuetie noted, “there was no leadership on the court because [the bench tactician] wasn’t there.” Worse still, he faces an automatic suspension of one game that could, upon review, be even longer depending on how the actions that led to his ejection — including sporting a seemingly hostile stance with closed fists — are assessed by the commissioner’s office.

Parenthetically, the Fighting Maroons’ problems don’t end there. For some reason, team officials allowed Akhuetie to face members of the media and, on camera, declare that “the referee was sh — y, f — ing stupid. Basta, the kalbo guy (the bald guy), he’s very stupid.” He went on to disclose that he “was gonna jump on him, but I had to keep myself together because I wanted to win.” As with Perasol’s case, how the league will handle his public undermining of authority is subject to debate; there is need to weigh the signal that needs to be sent against erosion of trust in the institution versus the virtual handicapping of the Season 81 runners-up in future contests.

Moving forward, Perasol and Akhuetie have promised to take to heart the lessons they learned from Sunday’s debacle. They better, because only then can they have a chance the next time they meet the Blue Eagles. There will be bad calls. There will be unfortunate breaks. And in a set-to conventional wisdom already pegs them to lose, keeping their composure is paramount if they aim to exceed themselves. Else, they will be left to wonder if their worst enemies are those they see in front of a mirror.


Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.