Philippines, Sports, television

Too Much for TV: Why MPBL’s Sudden Expansion Will Be Burdensome to the League

From the ‘Original 10’ to the ‘New 16’.

A total of 16 new teams will join 10 holdovers for the upcoming MPBL Datu Cup that will start this June. The ‘New 16’ will include seven teams from Metro Manila, four teams from Luzon, one team from Visayas, and four teams from Mindanao.

The new teams are:

  • Bacoor Strikers
  • Basilan Shooters
  • Cebu City Sharks
  • Davao Occidental Tigers
  • GenSan Warriors
  • Laguna Heroes
  • Makati Skyscrapers
  • Mandaluyong El Tigre
  • Manila Stars
  • Marikina Shoemasters
  • Pampanga Lanterns
  • Pasay Voyagers
  • Pasig Pirates
  • Rizal Ankle Breakers
  • San Juan Knights
  • Zamboanga Valientes

They will join the ‘Original 10’ teams that first competed in the MPBL Anta Rajah Cup, all of which are based within Luzon. The tournament, which ran from January to April of this year, was won by the Tanduay Batangas City Athletics.

But with the sudden addition of 16 new teams comes a new dilemma for Arnold Vegafria’s ALV Productions. The producer of the MPBL games on ABS-CBN S+A will now have to deal with increased scheduling, travel and production expenses, although for now the non-Luzon teams will not have any home games due to logistical concerns.

In the upcoming Datu Cup, 25 games will be played among the 26 teams. Since the Philippines does not have regional sports networks similar to those in the U.S., the MPBL will be forced to add more game days and stretch the duration of the tournament so that it will run for almost the entire year (barring holidays and weather disturbances).

This means that S+A, the network partner of the league, may have to deal with near-daily doubleheaders all year round. But with so many new teams and games to air, S+A might not be able to fully commit with the MPBL given its coverage of other events such as the ONE Championship and the ASEAN Basketball League.

Such a long tournament may also take its toll on the fans. While the MPBL managed to sell out games regularly during the Anta Rajah Cup, the Datu Cup could see some semblance of unpredictability attendance-wise, and if the MPBL is not careful in dealing with the lengthy schedule, it could lose some of its audience.

This will be a huge test for S+A, ALV and the MPBL to see if expansion will reap some benefits. It will not be easy for either one of them to deal, so each must play a key role in managing this tournament well.

Standard
Philippines, Sports, television

The Latest on Basketball TV: NBL and PCCL

Basketball TV is still alive and well.

Despite the spate of problems that plagued the network this year, it appears that BTV is soldiering on. And recently, two new basketball leagues were added to BTV’s portfolio.

Australia’s National Basketball League came to BTV last October. Founded in 1979, the eight-team league consists of teams from Australia and New Zealand.

BTV’s acquisition of the NBL is seen as a response to ABS-CBN Sports’ addition of the ASEAN Basketball League and the loss of FIBA basketball to ESPN5. After all, with the network being derided as a poor man’s NBA Premium TV, they needed to tap into other international leagues to stay relevant, hence the NBL.

However, this is not the first time that the NBL made its way into Philippine shores. During the mid to late 2000s, ESPN Star Sports had the rights to showcase Australia’s top professional basketball league.

With that, the addition of the NBL should give Filipino hoop fans another reason to go beyond the NBA when it comes to finding great basketball talents. However, the NBL is not the only league that BTV added.

Earlier this week, BTV announced that they will also air games of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League alongside Fox Sports Philippines. The PCCL will make its return after a one-year absence due to various logistical issues.

The 2017-18 edition of the PCCL will not only feature the customary 5-on-5 national tournament that will determine the national collegiate champion, but also a 3-on-3 national tournament. Fox Sports will air the 3-on-3 games, while BTV will have the rights to the 5-on-5 tournament.

BTV is no stranger to the PCCL tournament. The network (along with Solar Sports) had the rights to air the PCCL during the mid-2000s, after which ABS-CBN Sports acquired the PCCL rights to capitalize on the popularity of UAAP and NCAA basketball.

However, ABS-CBN and the PCCL organizers decided to cut ties in 2017 amid questions surrounding the league’s credibility. The entire 2017 tournament was canceled and it was not until November that the PCCL resurfaced with new partners BTV and Fox Sports Philippines.

One can only hope that these new acquisitions will serve BTV well in the near future. If not, fans should look forward to their next moves.

Standard
Philippines, Sports, television

ABL to Air on ABS-CBN S+A Starting This Week

Games of the Alab Pilipinas team will now air on ABS-CBN S+A, thanks to a new deal that gave the latter the broadcast rights to the Asean Basketball League. (Photo credit: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Games of the Alab Pilipinas team will now air on ABS-CBN S+A, thanks to a new deal that gave the latter the broadcast rights to the ASEAN Basketball League. (Photo credit: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Add the ASEAN Basketball League to ABS-CBN Sports’ growing portfolio.

Beginning this Sunday, November 27, games of the upcoming ABL season will air on S+A channel 23 and on ABS-CBN Sports’ official website. The broadcasts will include all home games of the Alab Pilipinas team, as well as a select number of contests.

The ASEAN Basketball League will enter its seventh season of operation. While the league traditionally consists of teams based in Southeast Asian countries, two East Asia-based clubs will join the ABL this season.

The two clubs in question are the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions and the Kaohsiung Truth. They will join the aforementioned Alab Pilipinas club, along with holdovers Saigon Heat, Westports Malaysia Dragons and the Singapore Slingers.

The history of the ABL in the Philippines has been influential and controversial, with one season featuring no Filipino representative. Twice a Filipino club won the ABL championship (2009-10 Philippine Patriots and 2013 San Miguel Beermen), while one other team (2015-16 Pilipinas MX3 Kings) managed to survive only one season due to mismanagement.

The league also saw some Filipino and Fil-foreign players suit up as imports for other teams, mainly to influence and guide local talent. And last season, current Phoenix Fuel Masters head coach Ariel Vanguardia won the ABL championship with the Westports Malaysia Dragons.

Despite that, the ABL remains a league that is not necessarily known to the average Filipino. Local television coverage of the league has been spotty, with networks such as ESPN Star Sports (later FOX Sports Asia), PTV-4, TV5 and Solar Sports providing only a season’s worth of ABL broadcasts.

That said, the deal with ABS-CBN Sports should give the ABL even greater exposure than before. With the former’s vast broadcast range and up-to-date facilities, it should help the ABL reach out further to every Filipino household.

Let’s just hope that the relationship between the ABL and ABS-CBN Sports will last longer than one season, provided that the Philippines will continue its representation. As for Alab Pilipinas, good luck.

Standard