There will be US NCAA March Madness in the Philippines after all.
This weekend, Solar Sports and Basketball TV will join forces to cover Sunday’s Final Four and Tuesday’s National Championship of the US NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. Sunday’s games are as follows:
- Villanova vs. Oklahoma (6:00 a.m. live on Solar Sports and Basketball TV)
- Syracuse vs. North Carolina (8:45 a.m. live on Solar Sports and 10:30 a.m. delayed broadcast on Basketball TV)
The winners of the above games will face off in Tuesday’s National Championship. It will take place at 8:00 a.m. live on Solar Sports and Basketball TV.
This marks the return of the NCAA tournament to the Solar networks for the first time since 2013. Unfortunately, the return of March Madness to Solar was somewhat belated, due to a lack of interest from various networks.
Sports5, the rightsholder of the last two US NCAA March Madness tournaments, decided to back out owing to cost-cutting measures and the yearly observance of Holy Week. Fox Sports Philippines, who covers conference college tournaments, also did not express interest, and neither did ABS-CBN Sports due to its focus on the UAAP.
With no other options, Solar Sports decided to step in, but their involvement came way too late. As a result, they missed out covering the preliminaries, from the First Four to the Elite Eight.
Still, as far as Solar is concerned, it’s better late than never. After all, March Madness is considered a must-watch event, even if a few Filipinos religiously follow the tournament.
It remains to be seen whether or not Solar will be willing to cover another year or two of March Madness. But hopefully, once they express interest again, the coverage won’t be just the Final Four and the National Championship, but also the First Four, the rounds of 64 and 32, the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight, for the full March Madness experience.