(STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson - With the PBA’s new officiating philosophy in place, games don’t take too long to finish anymore because touch, ticky-tacky and bail out fouls are now ignored by referees.

PBA legal consultant Chito Salud, in a recent briefing, said average fouls called are down from 52.6 last season to 46.2 this conference. As a result, the PBA has reset the starting tip-off of each Metro Manila doubleheader from 4:30 to 4:50 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays and from 4:10 to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays.

“Even if we start the games later, they end about the same time as they used to,” noted PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial. “We’ve delayed the start a little bit to allow office workers to catch up on TV at home and we’re still finishing on prime time.”

If the schedule for the starting tip-off remained the same, the games would end much earlier than before, robbing TV viewers of the chance to watch the final minutes on prime time.

Attendance is averaging about 6,000 fans so Marcial said, the league is hitting its target this early in the season. It’s an indication that fans like the way the game is now played –with a lot more passion, physicality and pizzazz.

PBA technical group manager Perry Martinez said the new officiating philosophy doesn’t encourage brutal contact or vicious play. It’s in line with how games are officiated in FIBA tournaments where referees blow their whistles only if a defensive player pushes, holds, charges or impedes the movement of an offensive player to gain an unfair advantage. The guideline is a foul is called when a player is dislodged, displaced or dispossessed.

When there is clear and hard contact, the referee will make the call,” said Martinez. “We want the players to be more aggressive without being dirty. In the case of a shooter, the referee will make the call if the defender does something to affect his ability to convert the basket.”

More on the PBA’s new officiating philosophy in tomorrow’s column.

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Due to space limitations, we weren’t able to include the third question in our “NBA – Where amazing happens” contest in yesterday’s column.

Start sending your entries to our NBA contest today! You have up to this Friday to do it.

We’re picking 20 winners, each to receive a not-available-locally NBA gift set consisting of an NBA bag, a micro-mini basketball set and a stationery set. The official NBA merchandise was sent by the NBA from overseas, exclusive for Star readers.

It’s easy to join. Just write your answers to three questions and in 100 words or less, jot down what you think is amazing about the NBA. Send in your entries to “NBA˜Where Amazing Happens,” Philippine Star, sports section, Oca corner Railroad Streets, Port Area, Metro Manila. Don’t forget to write your name, age, occupation (if student, what course, year and school), address and telephone number and include an original copy of The Philippine Star masthead on the front page showing the date of the newspaper. The rule is one entry, one masthead.

The first question is–Who is the former Minnesota star now playing for Boston? The second question is–What is the last Eastern Conference team to win an NBA title and in what season? The third question is–Where or in what NBA city will the NBA All-Star Game be played this season?

Winners will be announced in this column on Wednesday, Nov. 21, and contacted by phone. Don’t delay. If you find the NBA amazing, grab the chance to win an amazing NBA gift set.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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