It is obvious that U.S. college basketball will never get the respect it deserves from Filipino hoop fans.
Such is the case for the U.S. NCAA men’s basketball tournament. While top conference tournaments such as the ACC, PAC-12 and the Big 12 air regularly on the FOX Sports family of networks and Sports Illustrated Asia, one network in the Philippines is noticeably absent.
The network in question is Solar Entertainment’s Basketball TV, who back in April aired the U.S. NCAA Final Four and Championship games alongside Solar Sports. Unfortunately, the network’s emphasis on the more popular NBA once again put into question their commitment to air next year’s March Madness, let alone the entire U.S. NCAA season.
The last time BTV actually aired regular season U.S. NCAA basketball games was back in the 2012-13 season. This was also the last time the network aired March Madness prior to last April.
The history between the U.S. NCAA and Basketball TV date back to the fledgling network’s first season in 2006-07. Back then, the network was home to several popular conference tournaments, and they also aired a select number of March Madness games as well.
Unfortunately, U.S. college basketball failed to make an imprint in the consciousness of Filipino hoop fans. Unlike the UAAP or the Filipino NCAA where its rules are based on FIBA’s template (hence a faster style of play), the U.S. NCAA employs a unique set of rules such as 20-minute halves, 30 or 35-second shot clocks, and one-and-one free throw situations.
It also did not help that U.S. college basketball players are essentially obscure names. The fact is, for Filipino hoop fans, they will only gain popularity if they were drafted in the NBA and play well there.
That said, BTV’s decision to drop the U.S. NCAA coverage back in the 2013-14 season was the right choice considering its lack of popularity here. While it did manage to air the Final Four in April, it was done out of necessity since no other network was committed enough to air.
Although Creighton’s Kobe Paras is trying to lift the profile of U.S. NCAA basketball in the Philippines, one thing is clear. U.S. NCAA hoops will never become as popular as the NBA here, and that’s a painful fact.