Welcome to primetime basketball, UAAP.
On September 13, the first night game in the history of UAAP men’s basketball took place inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The historic game pitted the De La Salle Green Archers and the National University Bulldogs, both of which went on to play in the season’s Final Four alongside the Ateneo Blue Eagles and FEU Tamaraws.
The historic night game was necessitated since the four teams on that day’s doubleheader were contending for a Final Four slot. With the stakes at its highest, and in anticipation of a possible sellout, the league decided to have two separate games on the same day instead of a traditional doubleheader, something they’ve been using during Ateneo-La Salle matches.
But instead of a morning and an afternoon game, the league experimented with a 2:00 p.m. game and a 6:00 p.m. game, in hopes of attracting more spectators. And on September 13, history was made in the UAAP.
Scheduling night games in Philippine college basketball is not a new concept. The NCAA experimented with this approach in Seasons 88 and 89, but abandoned it once TV5 joined alongside incumbent coveror and sister station AksyonTV in the coverage of the games.
Too bad few fans showed up to watch a primetime NCAA game, further compounding its issues in television coverage.
While the UAAP men’s basketball tournament is increasing in popularity, the league still needed something to spice up fan interest. This is where night games come to the picture.
Fortunately for coveror ABS-CBN Sports+Action, their scheduling flexibility allowed them to air this historic live match. And for the league’s legion of fans, the night game between La Salle and NU only adds to the UAAP’s growing popularity.
Tomorrow’s do-or-die Final Four matches (Ateneo vs. NU; La Salle vs. FEU) will again have a night game on the schedule. This time, however, three matches will be on the bill, thanks to the inclusion of the first game of the women’s basketball finals between FEU and NU.
In fact, all three games will be aired live on Sports+Action, furthering its commitment to the UAAP cause.
For a league that continues to grow with every season, the historic night of September 13, 2014 will always be remembered in UAAP annals. It was a night that the UAAP and its fans will never forget, and the legend will only rise from here.