- In the opening game of the new conference, the PBA showcased its first woman referee: Janine Nicandro
- PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa was impressed with the decisiveness displayed by Nicandro on the court
- She said that she is mentally ready for the bashers and haters who will criticize her for controversial calls
Change has come to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
In the opening game of the 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup between the Phoenix Fuel Masters and the Meralco Bolts, the league showcased its first female referee in history.
Janine Nicandro was the first of the two female referees who were promoted to the PBA from the D-League. The 23-year-old made her impact on her first game in the pros after three years in the D-League.
The 23-year-old native of Pagsanjan, Laguna showed no hesitation as she called a technical foul on Phoenix’s Mark Borboran in the middle of the third quarter. Nicandro’s decisiveness and confidence on the court impressed PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa.
The Bolts defeated the Fuel Masters, 108-103.
Although she looked poised and confident on the court, Nicandro admitted that she felt some nervousness during her first PBA game.
“Napressure din po sa players pero kailangan ko pong ma-overcome yun (I felt pressure from the players but have to overcome that),” Nicandro said.
The female referee is no stranger to basketball. As a graduate of marketing at the Laguna State Polytechnic University, she was able to play four years of basketball for the varsity team. Celso Rivera, a former referee of the PBA, encouraged her to try out being a referee for PBA.
But is Nicandro prepared for the criticisms that would come from die-hard fans every time she makes a controversial call on the court?
“Kaya naman po yun, kakayanin… Sinabihan na rin naman po kami na ayun nga maba bash kami, mababatikos ka, so handa na kami,” Nicandro explained.
(I can handle it... I am already prepared for that because we were told early that we will be bashed and criticized.)