Philippines, Sports, television

More Hoops: The NBL Philippines on BTV and Solar Sports

Another new Filipino basketball league has surfaced.

Last weekend the National Basketball League (NBL) played its first-ever games in Taguig City and Sta. Rosa, Laguna, where they were played to sellout crowds. The league has 10 teams in all, each based on either a province, a city or a municipality.

But before making any comparisons to another regional-based basketball league in the MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League), the NBL runs its operations a little bit differently. While the MPBL welcomes former professional and collegiate stars to play in their league, the NBL wants no part of any of them.

Instead they focused on the homegrown and grassroots level, welcoming young players who grew up in their respective provinces, cities or municipalities. The purpose is to develop these players and create local basketball icons in the community.

As mentioned earlier, the NBL has 10 teams that currently play in their first season. They are:

  • Bulacan Makabayan
  • Camarines Sur Express
  • Dasmariñas Monarchs
  • Laguna Pistons
  • Marikina Shoemakers
  • Nueva Ecija Go Bespren
  • Parañaque Aces
  • Rizal Spartans
  • Quezon City Rising Stars
  • Taguig Generals

The NBL is the brainchild of chairman Soy Mercado and commissioner Nandy Garcia, who both envisioned a home-and-away league strictly for homegrown amateur players. The league’s games are currently aired on Solar Sports, Basketball TV and Net 25, and is also streamed live on the NBL-Philippines Facebook page.

Here is a look at the full elimination round schedule of the NBL.

In addition to a men’s homegrown amateur basketball league, the NBL organizers also plan on establishing a women’s counterpart that will begin in September. Considering that the Philippines does not have either an amateur or a professional women’s basketball league at the moment, the NBL will look to fill that void with its own women’s league.

Basketball fans can only hope that the NBL will bring some much-needed hope and inspiration to young ballers everywhere. Their role as a grassroots organization will be very crucial in establishing the next great hoops star.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Philippines-Australia FIBA Basketball Game Earns an SPG Rating

Call it the ‘BasketBrawl in Bocaue’.

The FIBA Asia qualifying game between the Philippines and Australia at the Philippine Arena Monday night was marred by a bench-clearing brawl. The following posts should summarize the series of events that took place.

At the moment, FIBA is still taking a closer look at the incident, with the possibility of sanctions and suspensions to be announced in the coming days. Meanwhile, Basketball Australia and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas issued an official statement with regards to the brawl, while players expressed remorse on social media over their involvement.

This incident became the talk of the sporting world for all the wrong reasons. And as expected many netizens on social media were not happy about a competitive basketball game turning into a wrestling match.

The Philippines-Australia match was aired live on T5N last night and like all live sporting events on Philippine free TV it earned a Parental Guidance (PG) rating from the MTRCB. However, in subsequent rebroadcasts of the match on T5N and AksyonTV, MTRCB gave it a Strong Parental Guidance (SPG) rating for language and violence in light of the incident.

Never before in Philippine television history has a non-combat sporting event earn an SPG rating due to circumstances beyond its control. While live sports is usually attended and watched to by people of all ages, such incidents are sometimes unavoidable and can also be traumatizing.

Still, such untoward incidents would have been prevented had the referees lay down the law and play the peacemaker role between two sides. Unfortunately for the referees in Bocaue, it’s either they are not competent or strict enough to do their job.

That said, this incident between the Philippines and Australia will forever live on in Philippine television infamy, both for its impact and its consequences in the game of basketball. It will be interesting to see what new narratives will come out of this, so stay tuned for further details.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Thoughts on U.S. NCAA College Basketball on ESPN5

ESPN5 will cover some of the U.S. NCAA intra and interconference games this season, and they will also air March Madness in March 2018. (Photo credit: National Collegiate Athletic Association)

The NBA may still be the most popular global basketball league for Filipinos, but ESPN5 is looking to change that perspective.

When TV5 and ESPN joined forces to establish ESPN5 last month, one of the things that they addressed is the lack of serious attention towards U.S. college basketball in the Philippines. While TV5 has been able to broadcast the March Madness portion of U.S. NCAA basketball in recent years, regular season coverage was only restricted to obscure networks such as All-Sports Network (now Sports Illustrated Asia).

That changed last Wednesday when ESPN5 began to air intra and inter-conference games of the U.S. NCAA Division I basketball season. Weekly doubleheaders are currently aired, live or delayed, starting at 8:00 a.m. on days where the NFL is not aired, and the frequency is expected to increase once the NFL season ends.

Even though the U.S. NCAA is expected to provide a boost to ESPN5, there are still some doubts as to whether or not this league will thrive among Filipino basketball fans. Here are some questions that may test the Filipino’s knowledge of the U.S. NCAA.

  1. Do they know some of these up-and-coming U.S. college basketball stars (e.g. Marvin Bagley)?
  2. Do they know top rivalries such as Duke vs. North Carolina and Kentucky vs. Louisville?
  3. Do they know the rules of the U.S. NCAA which is drastically different from the NBA and FIBA?
  4. Do they know each college and university’s nicknames, colors, cultures and traditions?
  5. Do they have the patience and time to even care about U.S. college basketball?

That said, it will not be easy for ESPN5 to promote U.S. NCAA basketball despite the Filipinos’ love of the game. Much like the NBA, the PBA and even local college hoops such as the UAAP and the NCAA, expect plenty of growing pains before the U.S. NCAA becomes embedded in every Filipino basketball fan.

But does ESPN5 have plenty of time and money to do so? Considering the limits of its licensing deal with TV5, not to mention the network’s poor reach, they really need all the time and power in the world to cultivate the U.S. NCAA into a part of Filipino basketball culture.

Oh well. In any case, let’s give ESPN5 the best of luck with the U.S. NCAA because it is going to be a rough ride ahead.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Despite Airing March Madness, US NCAA Remains Out of BTV’s Equation

Creighton star Kobe Paras may be making his presence felt in the U.S. NCAA, but the league's lack of popularity in his home country continues to be a problem. (Photo credit: Fox Sports Asia)

Creighton star Kobe Paras may be making waves in the U.S. NCAA, but the league’s lack of popularity in his home country continues to be a problem. (Photo credit: Fox Sports Asia)

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.

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Philippines, Sports

In 100 Words: No Euroleague on BTV, Again

The Euroleague is arguably the second most widely recognized basketball league in the world, next to the NBA. But its coverage in the Philippines has been rather patchy, at best.

In the past, Basketball TV covered Euroleague matches from the eliminations all the way to the finals. But there have been two instances where BTV did not air any Euroleague games.

In the 2009-10 season, the now-defunct ESPN Star Sports group covered the Euroleague games. This season, the Euroleague was shut out of any sports-centric cable network in the country, presumably due to its lack of popularity among basketball aficionados in the country.

Nobody knows when will Euroleague basketball return to Philippine shores, but for a league so highly regarded, they surely deserve some respect, even from the PBA and Philippine basketball.

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