Three decades at top ends for referee

End of an era: After 31 years Roger Shiels has controlled his last National Basketball League game. Picture: Chris LaneNOT even US basketball legend Alonzo Mourning stood a chance against Roger Shiels.
Nanjing Night Net

Shiels has called it a day after more than 30 years as a referee in the National Basketball League (NBL) but it was that one moment overseas which stands out.

Officiating a game between the US and Puerto Rico in the Goodwill Games in the US in 1990, the on-field and off-field action was anything but friendly.

“Two weeks beforehand the teams played and they had to send in the riot police,” said Shiels, of Kogarah Bay.

“We had a fight break out three or four minutes into the game and I sent Alonzo off.

“He knew he was going. His reaction was about 1/100th of what their coach was; he lost his best shot blocker and wasn’t happy. The game went smoothly after that.”

Shiels has officiated in every single season since the NBL started in 1979. He controlled 714 games before retiring following the match between Sydney Kings and Wollongong Hawks on March 24.

The seven-times NSW basketball referee of the year award winner also controlled 14 NBL grand finals.

“I’m sad and a bit relieved, but I’m going to miss the game,” he said. “I know I could have gone on a few more years but there wasn’t anything left to achieve.”

The aircraft engineer sits fourth in all-time games controlled by a NBL referee. Shift work prevented his availability in some matches.

“When we first started the competition hardly anyone would turn up,” Shiels, 59, said. “The quality of players has come along in leaps and bounds. Years ago the US imports would dominate but that doesn’t happen any more.”

Shiels first controlled a game in the school yard as a student at Endeavour, before it became a sports high school.

Posted by at 20/05/2018
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