The PBA has had a long history of shuffling its broadcast crews during the Finals, and the 2013 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals is no exception. Some things do not work out for the better, and for the PBA and its broadcast partners, it may be a matter of time before deciding that only one broadcast team is enough to describe the action of every Finals game.
TV5’s coverage of the PBA currently has no de facto No. 1 or No. 2 broadcast team. Instead the network assigns a variety of play-by-play announcers, color analysts, sideline reporters and studio hosts to work every game, including the Finals. That constant shuffling leads me to these questions. Who is really the No. 1 play-by-play man, Magoo Marjon or Mico Halili? And who is really the No. 1 analyst, Jason Webb or Quinito Henson?
During ABS-CBN’s recent coverage of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Finals, they only used Boom Gonzalez and TJ Manotoc to work every game. The duo were also assigned to cover the recent NBA Finals locally. The usage of just one broadcast team in the Finals ensures a high quality, consistent and smooth description of the action as the games get tougher. Just ask the American announcers at every sport.
Only the top broadcast teams have the honor of calling the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Stanley Cup Finals and the NBA Finals. They were trained to call big games involving the great players, and their experiences at calling the game gave them the honor of being called up to announce a championship series. That is why the likes of Mike Breen, Joe Buck, Jim Nantz, Al Michaels and Mike Emrick have been so successful at their craft because they earned their stripes calling the game involving the best players and the best teams. And their broadcast partners in Jeff Van Gundy, Troy Aikman, Tim McCarver, Phil Simms, Cris Collinsworth and Eddie Olczyk proved capable of providing a deeper analysis of the game through their intuition and knowledge.
It is a different story though when it comes to TV5’s PBA Finals coverage. On some nights it would be Magoo Marjon and an assigned color man, other nights will see Mico Halili, Charlie Cuna or Rado Dimalibot work play-by-play with an assigned analyst. Even the sideline reporter and studio host assignments are a revolving door. Several of the personalities even play two different roles; Halili, for instance, worked as both a studio host and a play-by-play man. This is not the case in the United States, where the two roles are separate from each other.
TV5 has to make a decision on who is really the No. 1 broadcast team. Both Halili and Marjon have the capability to be the No. 1 guy, but in terms of experience and big-game minutes, I had to give it to Halili because of his extensive broadcast work. As for the analyst spot Henson should have been the man, but due to his part-time status and multiple roles, I had to give it to Jason Webb for his youth, exuberance and knowledge of the game. TV5 needs only ONE broadcast crew for the Finals, and the Halili-Webb partnership may be the needed answer.
The PBA needs to carefully handle its broadcasts. They have already suffered from TV5’s broadcasting issues prior to the Governors’ Cup, and now with the rigodon of personalities calling the Finals, it is clear that PBA’s television coverage is lacking in both identity and distinction, one that would put them at par with the UAAP coverage on ABS-CBN Sports.