Philippines, Sports, television

Underrated College Basketball Leagues Try to Etch Footprints on Philippine TV

The 2016 NAASCU basketball tournament is just one of three under-the-radar collegiate basketball competitions that received ample airtime on television this year. (Photo credit: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The 2016 NAASCU basketball tournament is just one of three under-the-radar collegiate basketball competitions that received ample airtime on television this year. (Photo credit: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The UAAP and the NCAA are not the only collegiate basketball tournaments that are making hoop fans jump for joy.

This year, three other college basketball tournaments are getting their much-needed due by way of television exposure. They are:

  • NAASCU (National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities)
  • CESAFI (Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc.)
  • UCBL (Universities and Colleges Basketball League)

The NAASCU is the third most popular collegiate sports league in the country behind the UAAP and the NCAA. The league is also the biggest membership-wise among the three, with a total of 14 member schools.

This year, the NAASCU men’s basketball tournament was televised via Solar Sports and Basketball TV, with the finals of the men’s, women’s and juniors tournaments also airing on the said networks. It marked the first time that the whole NAASCU tournament was aired on television; previous coverors in IBC-13 and Net 25 aired a select amount of games, with the latter focusing in particular on the Iglesia ni Cristo-owned New Era University teams.

The CESAFI, on the other hand, is the top collegiate sports league in the Visayas. Although the CESAFI is not as well-recognized as its Metro Manila counterparts, it nevertheless carved its own niche in the Filipino hoops scene by producing stars such as current Ginebra big man Greg Slaughter and San Miguel center June Mar Fajardo.

The 12-member CESAFI currently airs its basketball tournament on AksyonTV, and is produced by VIVA Sports. Previously, the games were aired on IBC-13.

And speaking of IBC-13, a new league began to sprout on the said channel. That league, the UCBL, is exclusively a basketball-only league unlike its fellow contemporaries, with seven schools from all over Luzon participating.

The UCBL games are produced by the Asian Television Content Corporation, the same outfit that produced the NAASCU and the PBA D-League on IBC-13. The deal to air the games was set a month ago, even as the network continues its privatization process.

Indeed, college basketball in the Philippines is on the upswing. Although the UAAP and the NCAA continue to be the darlings of the sport, the less heralded trio in the NAASCU, CESAFI and UCBL now try to find their own niche, and this should benefit the game of basketball as a whole in the country.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Amid Fan Demand, UAAP Men’s Basketball Finally Schedules Primetime Games

A night game between La Salle and NU on September 13 marked yet another first in the history of UAAP men’s basketball. (Photo credit: Interaksyon.com)

Welcome to primetime basketball, UAAP.

On September 13, the first night game in the history of UAAP men’s basketball took place inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The historic game pitted the De La Salle Green Archers and the National University Bulldogs, both of which went on to play in the season’s Final Four alongside the Ateneo Blue Eagles and FEU Tamaraws.

The historic night game was necessitated since the four teams on that day’s doubleheader were contending for a Final Four slot. With the stakes at its highest, and in anticipation of a possible sellout, the league decided to have two separate games on the same day instead of a traditional doubleheader, something they’ve been using during Ateneo-La Salle matches.

But instead of a morning and an afternoon game, the league experimented with a 2:00 p.m. game and a 6:00 p.m. game, in hopes of attracting more spectators. And on September 13, history was made in the UAAP.

Scheduling night games in Philippine college basketball is not a new concept. The NCAA experimented with this approach in Seasons 88 and 89, but abandoned it once TV5 joined alongside incumbent coveror and sister station AksyonTV in the coverage of the games.

Too bad few fans showed up to watch a primetime NCAA game, further compounding its issues in television coverage.

While the UAAP men’s basketball tournament is increasing in popularity, the league still needed something to spice up fan interest. This is where night games come to the picture.

Fortunately for coveror ABS-CBN Sports+Action, their scheduling flexibility allowed them to air this historic live match. And for the league’s legion of fans, the night game between La Salle and NU only adds to the UAAP’s growing popularity.

Tomorrow’s do-or-die Final Four matches (Ateneo vs. NU; La Salle vs. FEU) will again have a night game on the schedule. This time, however, three matches will be on the bill, thanks to the inclusion of the first game of the women’s basketball finals between FEU and NU.

In fact, all three games will be aired live on Sports+Action, furthering its commitment to the UAAP cause.

For a league that continues to grow with every season, the historic night of September 13, 2014 will always be remembered in UAAP annals. It was a night that the UAAP and its fans will never forget, and the legend will only rise from here.

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