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

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.

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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

ABS-CBN Sports: Basketball TV’s Only Hope

The loss of FIBA basketball and the abrupt cancellation of the NCRUCLAA coverage has hurt Basketball TV’s profile of late. (Logo courtesy of Solar Entertainment)

Basketball TV’s 10th year on the air has not been a smooth-sailing one.

The Solar Entertainment-owned network has seen plenty of losses in the last several months. Not only did it lose the FIBA basketball rights to Sports5, it also cut short its broadcast of the fledgling NCRUCLAA men’s basketball tournament a month into its maiden season.

On the positive side though, they managed to air an entire season’s worth of the NAASCU men’s basketball tournament while continuing its long and loyal commitment to the NBA and its related properties. Still, BTV’s increasing irrelevance has put a lot of pressure on Solar, and with the costs still growing, BTV’s days appear to be numbered.

There is a reason why BTV is known as ‘Basketball TV’: it is the home to a variety of basketball tournaments. While the network centers around the NBA, it also aired a number of other tournaments as well, such as the Euroleague, the U.S. NCAA March Madness, and local leagues such as the PBA and the defunct Philippine Basketball League.

However, as 2017 proved to be a poor year for both BTV and Solar, it is clear that the former needs a lot of help. At this point, a backup financier is all that BTV requires, and they can look no further than a fellow coveror of NBA games.

Back in 2011, ABS-CBN Sports signed a deal with the NBA to cover its games on free TV. Now the partnership between ABS-CBN and the NBA is six years strong, and they also expanded their scope online when ABS-CBN signed a contract with the NBA to operate the Filipino website of NBA.com.

ABS-CBN Sports also carry a wealth of experience covering local basketball. The network has existing deals with the UAAP and NCAA, and more recently, they began to broadcast the ASEAN Basketball League, along with grassroots basketball tournaments such as the NBTC and Slam Rising Stars competitions.

If Basketball TV wants to survive this cutthroat world of cable television, their only hope right now is to join forces with ABS-CBN Sports. With the latter’s experience and deep pockets, they could help BTV in any way, shape or form when it comes to providing top-notch basketball coverage.

It may take some time to materialize, but let’s face it, this is the only choice for BTV given their recent issues. That said, let’s just hope that Solar will be willing to allow rival ABS-CBN Sports to resuscitate BTV, and in doing so, alleviate the pressure of running a high-profile cable channel in the Philippines.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Basketball TV Is Now a Poor Man’s NBA Premium

Basketball TV's growing emphasis on local leagues comes at a price, as TV5 plucked the FIBA tournaments (in particular Gilas Pilipinas) away from the network. (Photo credit: FIBA.com)

Basketball TV’s growing emphasis on local leagues comes at a price, as TV5 plucked the FIBA tournaments (in particular Gilas Pilipinas) away from the network. (Photo credit: FIBA.com)

There is a changing of the guard on Basketball TV.

Since its first broadcast in 2006, BTV has been the home for numerous top-notch basketball tournaments. Their flagship product is obviously the NBA, but the network has also aired a number of other tournaments, namely the U.S. NCAA, FIBA and the Euroleague.

However, a recent rebrand last year brought in some drastic changes to BTV’s image. Gone were the major global tournaments that made the network stand out, and in their place were local tournaments such as the NAASCU and the ongoing NCRUCLAA men’s basketball competitions.

The additions of the NAASCU and NCRUCLAA to BTV gave both leagues an outlet with which they can expose themselves to a local audience. But at what cost does a pair of not-so famous leagues come in exchange for more recognizable tournaments?

The loss of FIBA tournaments, in particular, should sting BTV a lot. After all, this is the very same station which brought the FIBA game to a local audience, particularly with the return to prominence of Gilas Pilipinas.

Unfortunately, as TV5 president and Gilas coach Chot Reyes decided to give his own network the exclusive rights to all FIBA basketball games, BTV can only watch helplessly as its second most recognizable product gets taken away by a rival outfit. Such a shame for Wilson Tieng and company.

With the loss of FIBA to TV5, Basketball TV’s only source of relevance now is the NBA. At this point, 80% of BTV’s programming consists of the NBA and its related properties such as the NBA D-League and the WNBA.

As for the remaining 20%, these are now allocated to the NAASCU, NCRUCLAA and other future local competitions. In essence, BTV has become a poor man’s NBA Premium based on these numbers.

The future of Basketball TV will depend on how Solar Entertainment can properly maintain the network. If they can no longer do so, perhaps NBA co-rightsholder ABS-CBN Sports can step in and give a helping hand to its troubled rival.

The BTV people knew had an impressively strong lineup. Now, after over a decade, it was nothing but a distant memory, even if the network decides to give local leagues a chance.

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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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