This Saturday, the NCAA returns for its 90th season with the theme of ‘Today’s Heroes, Tomorrow’s Legends – NCAA @ 90: We Make History’. And in an attempt to shorten their basketball season, a new schedule was implemented.
Back in Season 89, the NCAA endured a longer-than-expected basketball season. The season began on June 22, after which the league took a break in early August due to the FIBA Asia Championships. Then came Typhoons Maring and Odette, which led to some postponed games.
As a result, the Final Four only got underway in November. The unexpected length of the NCAA season proved to be a hindrance for the organizers of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League, whose preliminary round games are usually scheduled in early November.
In response, reporters coined the hashtag #DiPaTaposAngNCAA, which was prophetic given the extended length of the season. It was not until November 16 that the season finally came to an end, as the San Beda Red Lions achieved their fifth straight championship at the expense of the Letran Knights.
Following the conclusion of the season, I wrote an article that would suggest a shorter NCAA season. In that article I discussed about a four-day or five-day a week schedule, the need for other venues besides the FilOil Flying V Arena, and the commitment that TV5 needs in order to make it all happen. As it turned out, I was right about the first suggestion, but then again the league will continue to depend on the San Juan venue for most of its games.
The new schedule will be as follows:
Doubleheaders every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, starting at 2 p.m. The doubleheaders from June 30 to July 4 will start at 12 p.m. due to the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals coverage.
Lone games every Saturday, with the exception of the June 28 openers, starting at 12:30 p.m.
AksyonTV will air all games, while TV5 will air the second weekday games and all Saturday games. Replays will air on HYPER.
This will be the first time since Season 87 that the NCAA will have all of its seniors games in the afternoon. In the past, Sports5 aired NCAA games on primetime, but with TV5 joining in the act, its loaded primetime lineup makes it impossible to employ the same scheme. Thus, the NCAA returns to an old method previously used with ABS-CBN Sports.
This season’s basketball games will be hosted by Jose Rizal University, and will also mark the final probationary season for Emilio Aguinaldo College and Lyceum of the Philippines University. The two schools’ membership will depend on their performance in all sports, and if they pass with flying colors, they will be accepted as regular members in Season 91 and beyond.
Defending champion San Beda is gunning for a sixth straight championship, but nine other schools are threatening to end the streak. This season promises to be very exciting and compelling, as the NCAA makes history.