The UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament is down to just two teams.
For the first time since Season 55 (1992), neither the De La Salle Green Archers nor the Ateneo Blue Eagles will be involved in the championship round. Instead it will feature the FEU Tamaraws and the National University Bulldogs, who disposed their respective opponents in Wednesday’s sudden-death semis matches.
The unlikely pairing between FEU and NU is not only ‘the best thing that ever happened in the UAAP’, according to FEU head coach Nash Racela, but it also makes for some compelling television as well. Both teams are aching to end a nine and 60-year title drought, respectively, and are also seeking redemption after they fell short in last year’s Final Four.
For the fifth consecutive season, select games of the UAAP men’s basketball finals will be aired live on ABS-CBN Channel 2. But despite the fact that they have aired the finals for five years, there were only three potential championship clinchers that aired on Channel 2; namely, 2011’s Ateneo-FEU Game 2, and Games 2 and 3 of last year’s La Salle-UST finals.
Let’s face it, in spite of the high ratings that ABS-CBN enjoyed with the UAAP, the one thing that is holding them back is its programming lineup. Since Channel 2 began broadcasting the UAAP men’s basketball finals, the only day that Channel 2 was able to broadcast is on Saturday afternoons, as timeslots on other days of the week were shut out in favor of teleseryes, and in the case of Sundays, ‘The Buzz’.
That said, ABS-CBN should have been figuring out this mess already. Perhaps they can use this setup: Game 1 on a weekday via ABS-CBN Sports+Action, and all potential clinchers on a Saturday via ABS-CBN Channel 2.
With this setup, more viewers will be interested in a possible must-win game rather than an appetizer of a series opener. But then again, this approach will depend on weather conditions that may postpone any game.
Nevertheless, this year’s finals between FEU and NU should be an interesting one, regardless of which ABS-CBN channel will air the game live. While the Finals won’t have the benefit of a popular star like Kiefer Ravena or Jeron Teng to fill viewers’ appetites, it should still give them plenty to cheer for two teams with contrasting yet proud UAAP legacies.
And with that, may the best team win. Good luck.