On its 90th season, the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the Philippines makes its biggest surprise yet.
This Saturday, the NCAA will hold its first-ever All-Star Game, featuring the league’s key players in the seniors basketball tournament. The event, along with the Miss NCAA, Three-Point Shootout and Slam Dunk Contests, will be held at the FilOil Flying V Arena (or San Juan Arena according to Sports5 announcers) beginning at 2:30 p.m. on TV5 and AksyonTV.
Proceeds for the NCAA All-Star Game will go for the benefit of Hospicio de San Jose, the NCAA personnel assistance fund, and the NCAA players in the national team.
Controversy surrounded the NCAA All-Star Game in the days leading up to the event. Upon the release of the rosters for both the East and West teams, only the local players were included, leaving foreign players such as Ola Adeogun, Cedric Noube Happi and Dioncee Holts out of the game. Adeogun even went as far as tweeting that they should hold their own All-Star Game in the Manila Zoo.
Regarding the snub, NCAA Management Committee (ManCom) chairman Paul Supan explained that it was the coaches who were asked to recommend players, and that they should select three from each school to ensure a fair representation. In another interview, Supan and ManCom member Peter Cayco added that the exclusion of foreigners is intended to ensure a more balanced and competitive matchup.
There is a reason why it was called an ‘All-Star Game’: it was designed to attract the most productive, talented and attractive stars in the game, And with the exclusion of star foreigners like Adeogun and Noube Happi, as well as more productive players like Jonathan Grey, there is definitely nothing to excite about the NCAA All-Star Game.
There is also another concern surrounding the All-Star Game: the attendance. There is a reason why the NCAA decided to hold the event at the smaller FilOil Flying V Arena: to avoid a repeat of last March’s poorly-attended NCAA Cheerleading Competition at the Mall of Asia Arena.
But even with a smaller venue, filling it to capacity remains a daunting task to the league, considering the lack of star power. Like last March’s Cheerleading Competition, the lack of promotion by Sports5 is giving the NCAA a lot of trouble, and it will be doubtful if the All-Star Game will be filled to capacity at all.
And finally, as mentioned, only the seniors basketball players were included to participate in the All-Star Game. The NCAA is a collegiate league with a variety of other sports, but with only seniors basketball being represented in this event, what is the point of holding the All-Star Game when only this discipline was emphasized?
Worse, the All-Star Game had nothing to do with the general championship race, so it is expected that it will only be a fun track meet rather than an important date in the schedule.
That said, this NCAA All-Star Game, despite its devotion to a good cause, is just a mere a distraction to a long NCAA basketball season. And unfortunately, this is not worth watching.