Physicality is back in PBA: Coaches Pleased

Coach Norman Black

Alex Compton and Norman Black laud PBA’s move to provide more leeway for physicalities

Over the course of the past few seasons, one of the usual grievances that are being voiced out by the players, coaches and even the fans is that referees back then were almost “trigger happy” when calling fouls on physical plays. And we cannot blame them for voicing out such grievances. Picture this, folks. Referees could whistle you for a foul for simply bumping the player whom you are defending. That’s really frustrating and could change the overall pace of the game because the more fouls that were called, the slower the game becomes. And slow games bore fans. They want faster games. They want more physicalities.
Fortunately, things are starting to get better as one of the changes that OIC Willie Marcial wants to implement this year is the reinstatement of the old “No Harm No Foul”  rule for the purpose of speeding up games and also to make the games themselves more exciting especially for the fans. Like it or not, the officiating has been horrible that fans were complaining about fouls that should haven’t been called and fouls that should have been called And the frequent call of fouls have taken away the physicality in the PBA.
Before 2018 came in, Willie Marcial has stated that the league has already started training its referees as they prepare for the reinstatement of the said rule.
Just last January 10, 2018, two coaches expressed that they were overall pleased with the higher amount of physicality that was allowed during their game. Those coaches are none other than Norman Black and Alex Compton- both coaches whose team are relying heavily on their physicality especially on the defensive end.
Norman Black, for one, despite losing to Compton’s Alaska Aces, 103-98, shared his observation that the game was being officiated a “little bit” differently and even took note that more contact between players was allowed on the court.
Alex Compton, for his part, has said that he’s liking the new direction that the PBA is taking when it comes to the officiating of the games. The American coach even said that allowing more physicality to come into play is good for the game.


The best thing about the reinstatement of the “No Harm No Foul” rule is that more coaches and players can do their defensive assignments better because they are now lesser worried about being called for a foul.The only side effect of this is that we’ll see more flopping players but then again, we just have to accept that flopping has been a part of the game, right? And so is physicality.  

The PBA "No Harm No Foul" Rule: The Pros and Cons

Mark Barroca and Marc Pingris of Star Hotshots
If the “No Harm No Foul” Rule gets reinstated, defense-oriented teams are among those who will benefit the most. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Can it actually help bring back the life in the PBA?

Whether you like it or not, basketball is a game that is filled with physicalities and those physicalities are what make the game a bit more exciting and entertaining, to say the least. What’s more exciting than seeing stars attacking defenders on their way to the basket, making the basket despite being defended tremendously? 
Or, what about defenders who successfully defended the opposing team’s primary scorer especially in critical situations of the game? These are the two things which make basketball more exciting than any other sports in the world.
During the early days of the PBA, physicality was at its best. Players were killing each other just to get things done. Of course, there were dirty plays but it’s still part of the game. And whether we like it or not, there will be always dirty players. This led former Commissioner Chito Narvasa implementing stricter rules on calling fouls- removing the “No Harm No Foul” rule in the process. While this move was good in terms of preventing things from escalating, this said move also slowed the game down. And it has made the fans bored and disappointed with the quality of games that they were seeing.
Fortunately, PBA OIC, Willie Marcial said that one of the changes that the league will discuss once the board meets for the time this year is the return of the “No Harm No Foul” rule. According to Mr. Marcial, some members of the board have actually said that they want the games to develop more “color” by allowing more physicalities to come into play.
But of course, it will have both the pros and the cons:

Pro: Faster and More Exciting Games

Assuming that the board agrees to full implementation of the said rule, one of the benefits of doing so is allowing the games themselves to speed up because of the lesser fouls that would be called. With the rule back, fans can now expect more physical plays especially on the defensive end of the game.  This will excite the fans and will encourage them to watch the game live. 

Con: Flops and  Dirty Plays

While the league has said that it will not tolerate dirty plays once the “No Harm No Foul” rule gets implemented anew, there’s no denying the fact that dirty plays from dirty players will always stay. 
Now, since getting fouled will be more difficult with the impending return of the rule, flops will come into play more than often. So, implementing the “No Harm No Foul” rule is a double-edged sword. 


Whether bringing back the old rule will help repair the strained relationship between the PBA and the fans is something that we need to wait and see. 
While it’s  exciting because it will allow more physicalities, the PBA  still has a more important thing to decide on before anything else: Who will replace Chito Narvasa as the PBA commissioner?