Philippines, Sports, television

Thoughts on the NCAA’s Perpetual-Benilde Uniform Fiasco

The second playdate of NCAA Season 93 kicked off in a rather inauspicious manner.

The first game of last Tuesday’s tripleheader pitted the Perpetual Help Altas against the St. Benilde Blazers. However, the game did not get underway until around 12:45 p.m. due to a uniform issue involving the former.

The Altas showed up in their maroon jerseys, when in fact they were assigned to wear their white uniforms. As a result, the NCAA Management Committee (MANCOM) gave the team a technical foul, which the Blazers took advantage at the free throw line.

Although Perpetual won the actual match by a 69-65 score, CSB placed the game under protest. In the end, the NCAA sided with the latter and awarded them the win by forfeit.

While the NCAA stipulates that one team should wear a light uniform (usually white or yellow) to contrast with a team wearing a dark uniform, there is one school that has somewhat defied this rule more often than not. The Letran Knights has had a long-standing uniform tradition in which the school doesn’t wear white uniforms but rather only red or navy blue.

In fact, during that same playdate, Letran wore their navy blues (normally their dark uniform) when they faced the Mapua Cardinals (in red jerseys) in the ‘Battle of Intramuros’. To cut the long story short, here is how Letran’s navy and red uniforms are used in games:

Letran’s red jerseys: Assigned as a ‘light’ jersey in games against the JRU Heavy Bombers (navy blue jerseys), Arellano Chiefs (blue jerseys) and St. Benilde Blazers (green jerseys)

Letran’s navy blue jerseys: Assigned as a ‘dark’ jersey in all games; assigned as a ‘light’ jersey in games against the EAC Generals, LPU Pirates, Mapua Cardinals, Perpetual Help Altas, San Beda Red Lions, and San Sebastian Stags (red or maroon jerseys).

It is unclear if Letran’s uniform ‘tradition’ is grandfathered before the NCAA strictly enforced the ‘light vs. dark’ uniform rule. But either way, this loophole is something that the NCAA should have looked at, regardless of how long Letran is doing it.

To be honest, this rule should have been repealed. Most leagues around the world are now allowing both teams to show up in dark colored uniforms (as long as it easily contrasts against each other), and with the growth of high definition television, viewers should easily tell them apart.

The NCAA has a lot of explaining to do when it comes to uniforms. One can only hope that they can enforce this ruling as strictly as possible so that this fiasco will not be repeated, otherwise they can just repeal the rule and let the teams play the game.

Notes: The ‘NCAA on Tour’ kicks off today with the Arellano Chiefs hosting the San Sebastian Stags at the Arellano University campus. The league will hold their campus tours in most Thursday playdates, along with a live pregame concert and special presentations produced by ABS-CBN Sports.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Uncertain Future for the PCCL After Cancellation of 2016-17 Tournament

The future of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League is in doubt after organizers cancelled the 2016-17 tournament. (Logo courtesy of the PCCL)

The future of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League is in doubt after organizers cancelled the 2016-17 tournament. (Logo courtesy of the PCCL)

There will be no national collegiate champion in the 2016-17 academic season.

It was announced earlier this week that the 2016-17 edition of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League will be canceled. According to PCCL commissioner Joe Lipa, various factors made it impossible to stage the tournament, namely schedules of participating leagues and TV coverage.

Last season’s PCCL was criticized for crowning two champions after the tournament was cut short due to typhoon Nona. FEU and San Beda were declared co-champions, while Letran and the University of San Carlos shared third place honors.

But even before last season’s debacle, the PCCL has had a reputation for being a poorly-organized tournament. Supposedly patterned after the U.S. NCAA March Madness tournament, the PCCL instead turned out to be more of an exhibition series, with several schools already slotting their Team B players in lieu of those who already moved to the professional ranks.

The PCCL also appeared to favor the Metro Manila teams more than those in the provinces. Since it began in 2003, the PCCL championship either went to a UAAP or NCAA school, and to make matters worse, the league has often awarded free passes to either league’s champions or Final Four qualifiers in the later rounds.

The poor quality of the PCCL also extends to television coverage. Although the addition of ABS-CBN Sports in 2009 somewhat helped the PCCL in the exposure department, it was eventually overshadowed by the growing popularity of the concurrent UAAP women’s volleyball tournament, which trumped the PCCL by a mile.

And last season, the UAAP’s decision to move the start of their season to September wrecked the PCCL’s plans to smoothly hold their tournament. With the UAAP men’s basketball championship taking place around late November and early December, it would be impossible for the PCCL to crown a national championship during those months.

Overall, the PCCL is not quite as prestigious as they should have. To this day, crowning a true national champion in the PCCL remains secondary to winning a championship in a more established mother league like the UAAP or the NCAA.

So what’s next for the PCCL? While the league hopes to hold another tournament next year, it remains to be seen if they will indeed put those hard-earned lessons to the test, and with regards to TV coverage, it may not be easy to attract potential suitors this time, given that their most viable backer in ABS-CBN Sports decided to cut ties.

That said, if this is indeed the end for the PCCL, this is definitely the time. They may have had promise, but at the end of the day, a true national champion will only be a memory.

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Philippines, Sports, television

The NCAA Season 92 on ABS-CBN Sports: An Overview

Year 2 (12th overall) of the NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports is now underway.

The 92nd season of the NCAA kicked off last Saturday with the traditional opening ceremonies and the first seniors doubleheader, headlined by the Season 91 finals rematch of arch-rivals San Beda and Letran. The ceremonies were also highlighted by the retirement of San Beda basketball legend Caloy Loyzaga’s no. 14 jersey.

Unfortunately for the fans of the league, the following day’s seniors tripleheader was not aired on ABS-CBN Sports+Action. The reason: ABS-CBN and the NCAA agreed that they will only air games every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for the season, save for last Saturday’s opener.

Not much is changed in the presentation of ABS-CBN’s coverage from Season 91. However, there is a new scheduling format, which include:

  • Seniors tripleheaders every Tuesday and Friday unless specified
  • Seniors doubleheaders every Thursday, usually preceded by juniors doubleheaders
  • Four or five-game juniors slate every Monday

In essence, a week’s worth of NCAA seniors basketball coverage will amount to at most eight games per week. The utilization of tripleheaders and five-game slates on select dates is intended on shortening the duration of the season, however, postponement of games may take place in the event of natural calamities.

Most games will be held at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Select marquee matchups will take place at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

This season’s NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports team will include the following:

Play-by-play announcers

  • Andrei Felix
  • Martin Javier
  • Boom Labrusca
  • Anton Roxas

Analysts

  • Martin Antonio
  • Migs Bustos
  • Olsen Racela
  • Mikee Reyes
  • Renren Ritualo

Courtside reporters

  • Sarah Carlos
  • Roxanne Montealegre
  • Myrtle Sarrosa
  • Ceej Tantengco

Every game day will feature a number of interactive segments, such as halftime school and player features, ‘Smile, You’re on Cam’ and viewer tweets. If last season’s success was any indication, then expect a lot more of these throughout this season.

Aside from seniors basketball (with a mid-season all-star game to boot), the NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports will also cover the final four of women’s volleyball and beach volleyball. Highlights from other sports will also be featured on the ABS-CBN Sports+Action highlight show ‘The Score’, hosted by either TJ Manotoc or Anton Roxas.

All games will be seen on ABS-CBN Sports+Action, both in SD (channel 23) and HD (channel 166 and 701). It will also air via live streaming on the ABS-CBN Sports official website.

This season’s theme will be ‘Sports Builds Character: Achieving Breakthrough @Season 92’. San Beda College will be this season’s host.

After the unpredictable ending to Season 91, it will be interesting to see how Season 92 turns out. But if last season’s success was any indication, then wait and see what comes next this season.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Remembering the NCAA on TV5

Adios, NCAA on TV5.

In one month, the 91st season of the NCAA will get underway. The league will have a new (or old) media partner going forward, as they joined forces with ABS-CBN Sports beginning this season.

But before we look ahead to the league’s return to the Kapamilya group, let us reflect on the three-year relationship between the NCAA and TV5.

Ambitious Beginnings

The NCAA joined forces with Sports5 prior to Season 88. The games were first broadcast on the AKTV on IBC-13 block, with a Monday-Thursday-Saturday schedule and a 4:00 p.m. start time.

The league also held a pair of provincial playdates in an effort to attract new fans. But to fans’ dismay, neither of the out-of-town games were aired on AKTV, a predicament that continued the next season with AksyonTV.

AKTV also employed full-time sideline reporters as opposed to student representatives/OJTs used by ABS-CBN Sports. They also deviated from ABS-CBN’s practice of showing cheering squads at halftime, and instead used the time to read netizens’ tweets and talk to fans of opposing schools.

And of course, a new partner means a new broadcast staff. Sports5 elected to employ a younger cast of announcers, as opposed to a more veteran-laden team during the ABS-CBN era, in hopes of connecting to younger fans.

Brewing Troubles and Change of Stations

The first sign of trouble for the NCAA on Sports5 took place in the Season 88 Finals. Game 3 of the San Beda-Letran series was aired on TV5 but on a more unfavorable early afternoon slot, a scenario that was repeated in the following year’s finals between the same two teams.

Then in May 2013, Mediaquest and TV5 decided to end their blocktime deal with IBC-13. This forced Sports5 to move the league’s games to AksyonTV, a decision that didn’t sit well with the viewers due to the station’s poor reach and accessibility.

Worse, the lack of an online livestreaming platform only exacerbated the situation, especially during heavily prioritized live news events such as the State of the Nation Address. Although Sports5 managed to provide a livestreaming platform by Season 90, the damage was already done at that point.

A Last-Ditch Effort By TV5

Season 90 saw a select number of games aired on the flagship TV5, in hopes of addressing the need for wider access. Still, a few games that ran overtime were cut off TV5 in favor of Aksyon Prime (a decision known as the ‘Heidi Moment’), something that was not experienced when ABS-CBN Sports (via Studio 23, now ABS-CBN Sports+Action) had the rights.

The TV5 games also featured the infamous Moneyball game that was first implemented during the network’s PBA coverage. The presence of Moneyball took away the school spirit aspect of the game, as it prevented the league’s fans from watching the performance of the cheering squads at halftime.

Even though TV5 aired a select number of games that season, AksyonTV still had a major presence on the NCAA coverage. The addition of TV5 did little to increase attention to the league’s games, despite a major promotional campaign that signified the NCAA as ‘Ang Larong Tunay’ (A True Game).

Aftermath

In the end, the ambitious plans of TV5 for the NCAA backfired. The demise of AKTV proved too much, as it affected whatever grand plans the Kapatid network has had in making the NCAA more competitive and attractive to viewers.

Promotion of the league was also a problem, as Sports5 continues to prioritize the PBA. Furthermore, the constant change in channels, along with the use of unorthodox gimmicks such as Moneyball, the lack of modern technologies, and the use of full-time reporters as opposed to student representatives, only hastened the decline.

The final straw for the NCAA on TV5 took place once their regular on-air announcers were elevated to the PBA. In hindsight, it was clear that TV5 has had enough; even though they tried to offer an extension, the NCAA felt the time to move on was now.

And so it did. From now on, it’s ABS-CBN Sports’ turn once more. And the NCAA couldn’t be happier.

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live events, Philippines, Sports, television

New Schedules for NCAA Season 90 Men’s Basketball on Sports5

The 90th NCAA season kicks off this June 28 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

This Saturday, the NCAA returns for its 90th season with the theme of ‘Today’s Heroes, Tomorrow’s Legends – NCAA @ 90: We Make History’. And in an attempt to shorten their basketball season, a new schedule was implemented.

Back in Season 89, the NCAA endured a longer-than-expected basketball season. The season began on June 22, after which the league took a break in early August due to the FIBA Asia Championships. Then came Typhoons Maring and Odette, which led to some postponed games.

As a result, the Final Four only got underway in November. The unexpected length of the NCAA season proved to be a hindrance for the organizers of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League, whose preliminary round games are usually scheduled in early November.

In response, reporters coined the hashtag #DiPaTaposAngNCAA, which was prophetic given the extended length of the season. It was not until November 16 that the season finally came to an end, as the San Beda Red Lions achieved their fifth straight championship at the expense of the Letran Knights.

Following the conclusion of the season, I wrote an article that would suggest a shorter NCAA season. In that article I discussed about a four-day or five-day a week schedule, the need for other venues besides the FilOil Flying V Arena, and the commitment that TV5 needs in order to make it all happen. As it turned out, I was right about the first suggestion, but then again the league will continue to depend on the San Juan venue for most of its games.

The new schedule will be as follows:

Doubleheaders every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, starting at 2 p.m. The doubleheaders from June 30 to July 4 will start at 12 p.m. due to the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals coverage.

Lone games every Saturday, with the exception of the June 28 openers, starting at 12:30 p.m.

AksyonTV will air all games, while TV5 will air the second weekday games and all Saturday games. Replays will air on HYPER.

This will be the first time since Season 87 that the NCAA will have all of its seniors games in the afternoon. In the past, Sports5 aired NCAA games on primetime, but with TV5 joining in the act, its loaded primetime lineup makes it impossible to employ the same scheme. Thus, the NCAA returns to an old method previously used with ABS-CBN Sports.

This season’s basketball games will be hosted by Jose Rizal University, and will also mark the final probationary season for Emilio Aguinaldo College and Lyceum of the Philippines University. The two schools’ membership will depend on their performance in all sports, and if they pass with flying colors, they will be accepted as regular members in Season 91 and beyond.

Defending champion San Beda is gunning for a sixth straight championship, but nine other schools are threatening to end the streak. This season promises to be very exciting and compelling, as the NCAA makes history.

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