Tuesday, 1 September 2009

B.C. referee representing Canada at FIBA Americas

Kamloops lawyer is the judge on the court

It’s game on for Stephen Seibel as soon as he hits the court — be it the hardwood of a basketball GYM or the wood grain THAT LIES BEFORE A JUDGE.

The Kamloops lawyer — who is currently earning his officiating stripes at the FIBA Americas Championship in Puerto Rico — spends the winter officiating men’s and women’s university basketball.

“It is certainly not as physical or emotional as FIBA tournaments, but CIS [Canadian Interuniversity Sport] basketball is an exciting and competitive brand of basketball that prepares me well for FIBA games,” he told KTW.

“However, nothing can prepare you for the speed and skill of international basketball.”

Not even seven years of university ball.

“I suppose the professionalism and advocacy skills [that come with being a lawyer] do assist me in certain situations, especially with coaches during the heat of the battle,” Seibel said.

“That being said, I referee with some excellent refs from all walks of life.”

In addition to officiating, Seibel has also taught the FIBA game — which is played under a set of rules different than those of the NBA and NCAA — to American-born players.

“I have travelled with Canada Basketball to Europe for friendly games and was invited by USA Basketball to referee and provide a clinic to the men’s Olympic team at their training camp in Vegas last summer, culminating in a game against Canada,” he said.

“My son thought it was cool that I was teaching Kobe Bryant and LeBron James the [FIBA] international rules but, to me, they were just two more players.”

Seibel is enjoying his time in Puerto Rico — when he’s not handling the duties of his day job.

“This is my first time in Puerto Rico. It is absolutely beautiful and the people are friendly — except during the games, of course,” he said, noting a rowdy match between the host Puerto Ricans and Brazil as an example.

“The crowd was wild. It reminded me of the old Blazers games at Memorial Arena.

“My wife and kids were in the stands and it’s fortunate they don’t understand Spanish.

“FIBA treats us very well and I am grateful to be staying at a great hotel on the beach. However, thanks to technology and a busy law practice, I am also working as a lawyer during some of the day as my profession comes before my avocation.”

The pressure of the court — the basketball court, that is — can be a lot, but Seibel enjoys it.

“There is a lot of pressure officiating at this level, but I am thankful to be able to assist the athletes and coaches in a sport that has been so good to me,” he said.

“I hope there are some young men and women in high school and college that read this and are inspired to come out and ref next year.”

The FIBA Americas Championship wraps up on Thursday.

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