Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Archers are National Champs!

Chris Tiu and Ryan Buenafe were not available for the Blue Eagles who beat the Letran Knights to enter the finals of the Philippine Collegiate Championship Finals. The Archers were missing Simon Atkins who beat NCAA champs San Beda Red Lions.

Props to JV Casio in his last game as an Archer. He has been one of my favorite players ever since he joined La Salle from San Beda high school. There is something about players and athletes who don't trash talk and still get the job done that I really admire and JV is the best at it. He does have the talent to play in the PBA because of his defense and his perimeter shooting.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pacman Power (and speed)

I decided to attend the live viewing at Silver City since most of our sponsors and clients, media along with close friends were also going to be there.

I did win a bet with my father in law as I picked Pacquaio to win. I really thought Manny would win the fight by KO but did not expect him to do it in such overwhelming fashion.

The screens in the main hall were hard to see at first because of the sunlight. But some black backing solved the problem by the time the Pacman entered the ring. No problems in the Decagon as the screens were of the LED variety (see pic).

The beauty of watching with 5,000 other Filipinos is that you can hear and feel everyone's joy and excitement everytime Oscar's face snaps back from a punch from Manny. I think part of the uniqueness of the morning was to witness this many people be unified toward one desire... to see their hero win and represent them and their country with pride and honor.

Much has already been said about Manny's demolition of the Golden Boy and I just wanted to post a congratulatory shoutout to the Best Pound for Pound fighter in the world today!

PBA Singapore Game

The trip was only for the long weekend and we were very much looking forward to the first ever official PBA game in Singapore. It had been 3 years since I last visited the small island country and the progress was very noticeable. You can only hope and pray that the Philippines somehow gets some divine revelation to those who have the power and actually do right for the sake of their countrymen.

Smart/PLDT was one of the major sponsors/organizers and since MVP was also there, their team really seemed to have better benefits during the trip. They stayed at a better hotel, ate better food, and generally had a more comfortable time than the Beermen. It really helps to have the chairman join the trip.

The game between Talk and Text and San Miguel was actually pretty sloppy in the beginning with the Tropang Texters getting the upper hand eventually thanks to the outside shooting of Ritualo and Alapag. That simplifies the game too much but the bottom line, Ren Ren and Jimmy were clutch and you can't help but also be amazed by the effort of Jared Dillinger.

Just some of the Pix from the trip:

I had dinner with the San Miguel team at a place overlooking the man made wakeboarding location in the outskirts of downtown.

The Singapore Indoor Stadium was also a first class facility that seated about 10,000 people.

Good lunch at Boon Tong Kee with Mads Deguzman and dinner at No Signboard Raymund Miranda.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Sweet 16 is Set

After many months of tournaments and qualifyers, we have the best 16 teams in the country ready for a winner take all National Championship tournament. Ateneo and San Beda of course are still the favorites but with the lose or go home format, it promises to be an exciting set of games.

The most interesting matchups for me in the first round are the two Cebu teams going up against the two UAAP powerhouses UE and DLSU. Another one is the FEU/JRU encounter. This is exactly what we wanted, to see how the UAAP/NCAA top teams fair against the rest of the country's best.

Good luck to all the teams!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Filipino Flash

I got to spend some time with the Champ, Nonito Jr. while he was here last year. Solar hosted a few weeks of his stay as he got to know more people from the mainland together with then girlfriend Rachel. The couple was able to attend different promotional events, our Christmas party and generally had a great time with family and friends in Manila and Cebu.

Congratulations to Jun on winning his 2nd Title Defense against the South African and although I've seen the Champ in better form, he was certainly good enough last fight to still be called a champion. Champions are athletes who win even when they don't bring their best on a given day. They find a way to still win because we will not always be at our best night in night out.

There were some articles that came out from Manny Pinol and Recah Trinidad insinuating a rift inside Team Donare. I am not privy to the private happenings inside Jun's inner circle but it seems Nonito Sr., had some not so good things to say about Jun's new wife Rachel. I do hope it all gets resolved as "The Filipino Flash" is the next best thing after Manny Pacquiao in the world of Philippine boxing right now. From what I gathered, Nonito Sr. and Rachel Marcial were both positive influences on Jun's life during our time together.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Belair Cup Champs!

Our Residents Team (Gray) for the Belair Inter color overall tournament won last Monday. Congrats to the team. In this photo includes Erick Reyes, Wowie Evangelista, Brent Javier, John Hall, Larry Lebron, Andro Torres, Midas Marquez, and Mico. I had a hand injury so I couldn't play. Beetle Lichauco our honorary coach is also part of the picture along with Mr. Ramirez, whose commercial team we beat to win the championship.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On Slow Motion Replays

Last night, an exciting double overtime game between San Miguel and Air21 was overshadowed by a controversial call at the end of the first overtime. A shot by Ranidel De Ocampo was only counted as a two pointer despite the 4th replay angle of the C/S 9 coverage showed he was clearly behind the arch. The shot tied the game and sent it to a 2nd overtime period but would have given the Express the victory if it was deemed a 3 pointer.

The PBA rules state that in the last 2 minutes, a team has to challenge the call in order for the technical crew to even take a look at the possible mistake. The refs claim that the call was not challenged all the way until the 2nd overtime period started. The Air21 staff disagrees and says they attempted to challenge numerous times.

The Air21 players were so pissed off that they even went to the commissioner's row at the start of the 2nd game to confront the commissioner in full view of everyone at Araneta. I was doing the commentary for the 2nd game and I saw Ranidel talking to the Commissioner Barrios flanked by most of his teammates. Before the conversation heated up, Lito Alvarez, the team manager and governor for the Express intervened and told his players that there is a proper venue to "express" (no pun intended) their frustrations to the commissioner. I do applaud Mr. Alvarez for keeping the proper respect deserving of the office of the commissioner's office.

The replay angles of C/S 9 has brought about a lot of added value for the viewers of the PBA. The technical crew has indirectly asked Solar to limit the angles in the future for reasons many can just infer. But these new angles have put all of us on notice that much more can now be caught on tape. Whether it's an innpropriate gesture from a coach, a technical mistake by an official, or a flagrant foul on a player, most of the action during games and beyond are more readily available. The technology by Solar should improve the efforts of everyone in the league to increase efforts to follow rules, limit cheap shots, and officiate better.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

BTV on Sky

It didn't last a year. The absence of Basketball TV on Sky Cable really pissed off a lot of people especially the die hards who need their fill of the NBA. Nevermind that it is also on ESPN and Channel 9, when the playoffs came around, a lot of the games were only on BTV. But you can't beat daily games with all the extra stuff and shows that go with it.

Sky had exclusive rights to BTV until January 1 of this year when they gave it up in favor of their new sports channel called Balls. So of course, Destiny was more than willing to take on the exclusivity which really helped their business tremendously.

Now I think with the clamor and demand on going, the only way to get BTV back on Sky is through a premium service where subscribers will have to pay extra to get it due to the exclusivity deal. Channel 149 is the inital allocated channel for BTV.

In the provinces, since there is no exclusivity deal in place, BTV will be back as a regular basic channel.

This all starts October 28.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Some Random PBA Thoughts

Few things in the last 30 years can claim to have weaved its way into Philippine culture like the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).  When it comes to sports entertainment, no other league has as much top of mind in terms of awareness. 

The 34th version of the PBA had some new things to look forward to.  Aside from the rookies coming in, the league recommitted itself to putting up the national team for the FIBA qualifiers and appointed a new television coveror for the next three (3) years.

I just want to touch on some random observations from the first two (2) weeks of the KFC PBA Philippine Cup.  First is the choice of Yeng Guiao as the head coach of the national team.  I think it’s an excellent choice for Commissioner Barrios.  He is a proven winner and is known to have a great feel for the strengths and weaknesses of the lineup he is coaching.  He is a politician and knows how to push certain buttons and balance the egos of those around him.  Lastly, I think he is one of the coaches who is most willing to get input from as many sources as possible to get the job done.  He doesn’t complicate things and is focused on the task at hand.

Then there is the television coverage, which is closer to my heart since I work for Solar Entertainment.  The games are now being shown on C/S 9, (formerly RPN).  There were some components of the television airing that needed some improvement as we started the season.  Credit needs to be given to the production team of Solar who made sure that all major kinks were addressed within a few days.  This will sound subjective but I’m confident that the final product is as good as it gets as far as local sports production is concerned.  It should improve even more in the coming weeks. 

The broadcast philosophy of “Mass follows Class” has also had positive initial indicators.  Ratings are up while the overall perception has improved.  It seems many are starting to enjoy watching the PBA again.

The inclusion and focus on kids was a nice touch by the commissioner’s office.  In all the years of the PBA, the opening ceremonies have not been as impactful as the opening games so at least the league gave dozens of young boys and girls the thrill of a lifetime by giving them the opportunity to meet the PBA stars.

As far as the games go, the basketball is still by far the best in the country.  Even with the 4th quarter meltdown by San Miguel (formerly Magnolia), it seems that they have the lineup to beat for this conference.  Despite the injuries to Danny Ildefonso and Danny Seigle still a far cry from his MVP form, the Beermen have been the most impressive for me.  They have the tools to be there in the end.  Jay Washington, Mick Pennisi and Bon Bon Custodio are the major additions to a team who has a good balance of youth and experience.  It is also the deepest team in the league especially when the injured get healthy.

The most fun team to watch is Rain or Shine (formerly Welcoat).  Their youthful energy is contagious and coach Caloy Garcia has adopted a new system to take advantage of the overall speed of the team.  Gabe Norwood, Sol Mercado and Ty Tang might actually be the best trio of rookies coming in.  Talk ‘n Text was the clear winner of the draft with Dillinger, Castro and Reyes but the Elasto Painters’ set of rookies are giving them a run for their money.  Dillinger, Norwood, and Mercado will be fighting it out for Rookie of the Year.

Kelly Williams is still the most talented player in the league with Willie Miller a close second. 

The overall athletic level of play right now is probably at the highest in the 34 years of the PBA.  It is still a few levels below the NBA and even the European League, but it is certainly top tier in Asia. 

Alaska is the second deepest team after San Miguel.  They have yet to utilize their rookies and their rotation seems to already have depth in all positions.

A lot of people have said that Talk ‘N Text has one of the best teams on paper.  They have all the tools to go far in the conference.  But you don’t win games on paper, you win them on the court.  I agree they have the talent but they still have chemistry issues and they have not yet played a full 48 minutes of good basketball. 

The Red Bull lineup looks like a very good PBL team.  Yeng has worked wonders with weak lineups before but he will need a more vocal leader since his best player (Baguio) is as quiet as a mime and doesn’t inspire unless he plays well.  The team is fueled by emotion and needs someone on the court who is an extension of coach Yeng’s character.

Overall, it’s been a fun start to the new season and there are enough going on to keep the interest of a lot of fans going

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ratings of First 5 PBA Games

I know a lot of people have their opinions on the new coverage of C/S 9 but I am very happy with the viewership results so far for the new philosophy. I think the new cameras has helped in delivering the clearer picture. I think the treatment of the commentators has enhanced the image of the league and its tv presentation. I think the Inscriber although still under utilized is very impressive compared to other machines used in local coverages. The LED has also improved perception of the league along with a few other new features.

There are certainly more things to add and improve and hopefully we will get them done in the next few weeks. Sales and marketing also has to continue to improve along with all the other aspects to get the PBA back as the best sports entertainment product in the country.
I am posting the latest ratings. These numbers are according the number of households. Each AMR% point is equivalent to about 36,000 households. The SHR% is usually double the AMR% depending on viewing levels at the time of the game. I compared the ratings of the first 5 games in the last 4 years along with last Oct 8 game vs the finals of last season. The game last night (not included in the charts) was actually the highest so far among the ones shown on C/S 9 so far. All in all, a very good start for the C/S 9 television coverage.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I tried to plot the AMR (average minute ratings) for the first 3 games for each of the last 5 seasons of the PBA. In the previous 4 years, the Opening Game was on a Sunday and the next 2 games were on a Wednesday. Only this year did the season start on a Saturday with the next two games on the Sunday.

This is an encouraging start for this season as more people watched the first 3 games compared to the previous 4 opening games. This is especially promising considering that Barangay Ginebra and Purefoods, the two most popular teams haven't played yet.

We will have to see if the good start in viewership can be sustained.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thoughts on Game 1

I had a very nice seat right behind the Ateneo bench so I had a decent vantage point for the game.
Game 1 of this year's UAAP finals proved how DLSU needs a awesome game from their star JV Casio to win while ADMU can afford off nights from theirs, Chris Tiu.  
The Archers' full court press has been well documented and it actually produced better results in game 1 compared to their 2 losses to the Eagles in the eliminations.   
DLSU needs to have a really good shooting night if they want to win because the interior defense of ADMU will just frustrate their inside game.  So Casio, needs help from Malabes, Mangahas, Barua, etc., from the perimeter.
Al Hussaini is no doubt the league's MVP.  The UAAP has gotten this award wrong before but I hope they get it right this year.  You can see the desire in Rabeh's eyes.  He combines his physical gifts with the intensity and maturity on the court to be the most valuable player indeed for Ateneo.  He is also no doubt the most improved player.
All of Casio's shots were difficult.  Whether he made them or missed them, hats off to Jai Reyes and Yuri Escueta for making JV work hard for every point (and non points).
I thought Ateneo controlled the game from start to finish.  Except for a few minutes in the first half, they led from the opening tip to the final buzzer.  Unlike in previous ADMU/DLSU games, there was no time when I felt the Eagles were in trouble.  

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The sad part about Philippine Basketball is that the leaders who are involved in the mess we’re in all seem to think they are doing the right thing.  History has proven that those who sacrificed self for the greater good leave a lasting legacy for future generations to be grateful for and benefit from.  Unfortunately in some cases, the greater good is not enough to merit the sacrifice from those involved.

It is so frustrating to us outsiders to observe how simple sacrifice would have advanced the cause of our basketball program this past decade or so.  The Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) has been unsuccessful in tapping the best talents to at least give our country a semblance of respectability. 

Although I disagreed with the reasons and even the process of kicking out the BAP from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) which led to our eventual suspension from FIBA, it was obvious that something had to be done to improve our performance in international tournaments.  Pilipinas Basketball (PB), a group created to supposedly replace the BAP in the POC was not recognized by FIBA which complicated things.  Only after an initial breakthrough in Bankok where representatives from all groups (PB and BAP including FIBA) decided to put selfishness aside for the good of the country did FIBA lift the suspension.

The new group formed, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) had a lot of promise.  It had the resources and clout to get the best players.  It had the support of the most influential basketball organizations like the PBA, PBL, and the UAAP.   And it seemed to have an adequate network of coaches and officials to implement grassroots programs nationwide.  It was supposed to be a triumph in human cooperation where two opposing groups put their pride and differences aside and work toward a common goal.

The SBP actually got a lot of people excited about basketball again.  Manny Pangilinan, a respected and successful business person and a known supporter of sports, was elected president as FIBA required someone who was neutral from bothPB and BAP to head the new organization.  The PBA gave its full support by adjusting their calendar and lending its resources.  The PBL followed suit lending players for qualifying tournaments within the region.  The youth program got financial backing while the women’s team started overachieving in tournaments abroad.  Progress was actually noticeable.

So why, despite the steps forward, is there still division and efforts to derail all that has been achieved.  Just like the POC, politicians are leading the charge for the BAP, which should have ceased to exist if the Bankok agreement was to be followed.  The group started to disregard the efforts of the SBP.  They began organizing their own tournaments and electing their own officers in blatant defiance of the latter.  The SBP on their part, armed with written letters of support from the POC and FIBA, discouraged participation in the BAP tourneys.

Now the BAP has found a judge named Antonio Eugenio to go along with their cause and declared the SBP elections null and void while affirming their own.  I reckon the SBP will appeal the decision and more legal mumbo jumbo will happen.  But why is a judge even involved in the first place?  The court stated that it was not impressed by the presence of the POC and the recognition by FIBA during the SBP elections.  Is there just too much pride to go around that a judge with no stake in the matter deems practically irrelevant the governing bodies who have the most authority on the subject? 

All of us just want Philippine international basketball to flourish once again.  I’m sure there have been some feelings hurt with exclusions from certain processes and even moves that might have made the other “marginal”.  Great men work past wounded pride and continue to journey toward the greatest good. 

In basketball, the winners are the ones who are willing to do whatever it takes for the good of the team.  Those who are willing to give up individual glory and focus on team victory.  Those who know his teammates’ strengths and weaknesses and compliment them with his own.  Those who step up in crucial moments of the game and deliver when needed.

With this new development from branch 24 of the Manila Regional Trial Court, we are once again at a crossroads.  Our country is at risk of suspension if FIBA decides that we really cannot function as one.

Are we going to be bitter or better?  Are we going to be winners or whiners?  Can Philippine Basketball deliver in the clutch?  Let’s hope all the fumbles and turnovers can be overcome in the endgame.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Random Draft Thoughts

The PBA Annual Draft has come a long way from being done in private among the member teams back in the 80’s.  It is now a public spectacle watched by thousands live and broadcast nationwide.

This year’s version, done in Market! Market! In Taguig had its share of excitement but most of the picks were expected as 19 of the 45 players were picked to play in the upcoming season.

The clear winner in my book was Talk ‘N Text.  I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the Phone Pals pretty much got what they wanted.  Certainly, coach Chot Reyes would have preferred the acquisition of Gabe Norwood, a player he coached on the National Team during the FIBA Asia Championships, and I reckon he made attempts to get that number one pick of Rain or Shine, but his team still got both quality and quality when all was said and done.

Norwood (#1) was by far the best player on the list and he is a superstar waiting to happen in the PBA.  He has the combination of athletic ability, unselfishness and winning attitude that guarantees prolonged success in the league.  He will make the youngest PBA team a lot better.  Solomon Mercado (#5) (from Alaska for Joe Devance) and Ty Tang (#12) makes Rain or Shine a much faster team and we will see if the change in philosophy helps the Elasto Painters.

I haven’t seen enough of Jared Dilinger (#2) to have a good opinion but I have seen a lot of Jason Castro (#3) to be sure that he is going to be a great player.   The Phone Pals gave up Jay Washington for the 3rd overall pick which became Castro.  The former PBL Most Valuable Player was signed by the Singapore Slingers of the Australian League but with the team leaving the NBL, it seems inevitable that Jason will be playing back in his homeland sooner than later.  Castro is explosive as a guard.  He has a good outside jumper, can attack the basket better than anyone in the draft, is strong enough to defend even bigger guards, and is a proven winner.  His NCAA and PBL championships are more telling than his stats which has garnered him the MVP honors.  Note that Jason won his PBL MVP’s with Norwood playing in the same conference.  He and Gabe will be battling it out for Rookie of the Year this coming season.   Rob Reyes (#4) and Pong Escobal (#11) will also make the lineup although not as much impact as the other two.

It’s hard to fault San Miguel for foregoing Castro at number three and in effect getting Washington instead.  The Beermen needed some insurance in the power forward spot with the injuries to Ildefonso and Seigle.  They also already had Mike Cortez to take over from Olsen Racela which made picking another point guard redundant.  SMB in recent history has not had great drafts and this year is no exception.

As far as Alaska is concerned, they got the players they were hoping for to plug some holes in their lineup.  Joe Devance (from Rain or Shine for Laure and Sol Mercado) plugs a big hole in the middle where only Sonny Thoss was a true center.  Kelvin Dela Pena (#15) , an NCAA MVP also gives adequate support for Willie Miller

Red Bull got Larry Rodriguez (#9) late in the first round, then Jeff Chan and Mark Cuevas in the second.  None of them seem to be good enough to be stars in the league but I said the same thing about Junthy Valenzuela, Lordy Tugade, and Cyrus Baguio until Yeng Guiao’s system proved otherwise. 

After great picks the last couple of years with Kelly Williams and Ryan Reyes, Sta. Lucia picked dead last in both rounds because of their championship trophy in the Philippine Cup.  Kelvin Gregorio (#10) will contribute some but he is in no way someone who will take over from Marlou Aquino and Dennis Espino as interior powerhouses.  Chito Jaime (#14) and Christian Cabatu (#20) won’t be contending for Rookie of the Year as well but at least one of them should still make the squad come opening day.

Mark Borboran (#6) and Cholo Villanueva (#13) in the second round were picked by the Air 21 Express seemingly following the philosophy of getting the best possible talent available.  Mark will be a solid contributor while Cholo might plug a need at the point guard position.

While Air 21 took the best player available, Purefoods picked according to their biggest need, a banger inside.  Beau Belga  (#7) is a wide body who will take up some space for coach Ryan Gregorio.  Jonathan Fernandez (#16) is the best shooter in the draft but will have to play behind Peter Simon and James Yap.

Coke and Ginebra didn’t have picks because of previous trades.  Coke needs to find some playing time for Kenneth Duremdes and John Arigo while Ginebra just has to get healthy to compete at the championship level.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Lineup

Only Three (3) didn't show up. Norman Black and Jason Webb were in Pampanga for the MyMVP shoot for TV5, and there was a miscommunication with Dominic Uy. The commentator's orientation was requested by the commissioner and I'm glad we did it. I introduced the new philosophy of the coverage while Solar COO Peter Chanliong, PBA Commissioner Sonny Barrios, and Chairman Joaqui Trillo gave short talks. Andy Jao was the guest speaker touching on his over 25 years of sports broadcasting experience in the Philippines.

Andy's talk was very refreshing and he had a lot of insights and stories that was very relevant to all of us.

After a lot of discussion and review with the production team and the PBA commissioner's office the main list of on cam commentators who have been invited to join are:

1. Mico Halili
2. Vitto Lazatin
3. Ed Picson
4. Paolo Trillo
5. Jude Turcuato

1. Norman Black
2. Danny Francisco
3. Quinito Henson
4. Vince Hizon
5. Jason Webb

1. Richard Del Rosario
2. Patricia Hizon
3. Eric Reyes
4. Anthony Suntay
5. Dominic Uy

1. Peaches Aberin
2. Reema Chanco
3. Lia Cruz
4. Ceska Litton
5. Marga Vargas

There are others who will be part of the roster but this is the initial list approved by the PBA and Solar. I hope all will accept the invitation and be part of the coverage.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Lutong Macau

A few hours after touchdown from Beijing, I was off again to Macau to join the PBA Board of Governors in their annual planning session hosted by Solar.  I presented the plans for the upcoming season and it seemed they were happy with it.

In the picture is the PBA Board with new Chairman Joaqui Trillo (front 3rd from right) seated with Solar Chairman William Tieng (4th from right).  The other board members and the Solar management (your truly in the extreme right back row) flank the two chairmans.

It was a great stay at the Venetian with the largest Casino in the world and very luxurious suites.

Olympic Dream

A lot has been said about the recently concluded Beijing Olympics.  Mostly good and positive, but some not so positive statements have also been thrown out there especially when referring to the Philippine’s non medal performance.  The blame game started a few weeks ago and continues in the aftermath.

All I can say is that the Olympics experience in China was one to cherish and learn from in terms of pushing the limits and being the best.  The organization of the games was practically flawless in all aspects and if China needed an event to declare their status as a world player, then the Olympics did the job.

During the four (4) hour plane ride back to Manila, it was actually an interesting exercise to dream of a scenario where the Philippines was host to the Olympic Games.  What would it take for it to happen?  After going through the factors involved, it got a little depressing.

First off, we would need an airport that can take in almost three (3) million visitors who will watch the games.  The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) only has one runway and will not hold up to that many visitors arriving in such a short time span.  Beijing created a terminal just for the Olympic family arriving with dedicated immigration lines and baggage pickup.  There were over 10,000 athletes and over 20,000 media personnel accredited with a lot more officials and coaches from all countries involved.  It took almost a decade to open a terminal significantly smaller in size here so an airport in the Philippines to accommodate this in unlikely.

Then there are the accommodations for all involved.  The athlete’s village in Beijing consisted of luxury condominiums complete with amenities like swimming pools, weight rooms, and restaurants about a kilometer away from the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium.  A good comparison would be the Rockwell group of condos in Makati City.  The media village was similar although farther away from the action about twenty (20) minutes away by bus.  Unless all the residents of Rockwell agree to move out and give way to the athletes, then the Philippines being able to house the Olympic family is again unlikely.  That doesn’t even take into consideration the shortage of hotel rooms for the millions who will come and watch.

The venues and facilities for the games were very impressive.  The bird’s nest stadium was state of the art with awesome audio visual facilities.  The water cube was an architectural marvel and a sight to be behold inside out.  It really is unfair to even try to describe how incredible the structures were in Beijing.  All facilities were overwhelming.  The closest we have would be the Araneta Coliseum which can be adequate for the basketball games but it would still need an upgrade in the LED and audio system, media positions and upgraded locker rooms.  We don’t have anything else that comes close and would have to build from scratch for all other venues.

The transport system was also something to applaud.  The whole city had Olympic lanes to avoid traffic for all accredited vehicles from one venue to another.  That would never fly in Manila.  There were hundreds of busses deployed so that at any given time, accredited personnel can catch a ride from one venue to another.  The Olympic ID allowed free use of all public utility vehicles in the city.  I can’t even begin to try to figure out how to fix our transport system in the Philippines.

Then there’s the International Broadcast Center (IBC), where the international media can go and get information about all the games in all the venues.  There were countless workstations, LCD screens, books, flyers, and everything else needed to be able cover the games.  Hundreds of buses were in place right outside for immediate deployment to all relevant venues.  The Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) would be the closest we have if it was wired with thousands of monitors, millions of feet of wires, and dozens of satellite dishes.

The one component I think the Philippines might be able to match is the participation of 500,000 volunteers spread throughout the city to help out during the games.  Their contribution was just as valuable as any of the first class venues and high tech equipment used in the 17 day span.  I believe that the Philippine culture and spirit is up to the challenge and can even surpass the hospitality shown by the Chinese people.

It doesn’t cost anything to dream and we can only hope that our country figures out how to eventually succeed in sports on the world stage.  

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Greatest Ever?

Clearly, the darling story of the Beijing Olympics has been Michael Phelps’ quest for the most number of gold medals in a single Olympic Games. Mark Spitz won seven over 30 years ago in Munich, the last time the Philippines played a basketball game in the greatest sporting event in the world. Surely there are other inspiring stories but none has captured the imagination of the world as Phelps’ eight gold-medal haul.

It would probably take at least a century or two for our beloved country to match the number of gold medals that this phenom from Baltimore has won, if we match it at all. As we struggle to find our first (this was written before our taekwondo jins compete), a single swimmer already has 14 within a four-year span. In fact, I think only less than 10 countries will have more gold medals than Michael Phelps alone by the time these Games close.

Is he the greatest Olympic athlete of all time? Well, if you measure by medals, more specifically the gold variety, then there is no doubt. Mark Spitz, the man whose record of seven gold medals in one Olympics was surpassed by Phelps, is the first to declare that Michael is indeed the best Olympian in history. He has won more than any human being on the face of the planet. But are the number of gold medals the only way to gauge greatness? Let’s look at other criteria.

What about the athletes who have been able to dominate over an extended period of time? How much does longevity count? Greg Louganis, dominated diving, Theofilo Stevenson for boxing and Carl Lewis in track and field for multiple Olympics. Beijing is already Phelps’ second Olympics and he’s young enough for at least one or even two more. He won six golds in Athens before his record haul in China. So this is not a flash in the pan. Phelps fits.

What about those who transcended their sport and etched their character and personality into the consciousness and the minds of the human race by their performance? Cassius Clay with his style and grace captured the hearts of all sports fans with his demeanor and flamboyance. The young Muhamad Ali touched all fans beyond boxing and beyond sports. The single most recognizable personality of the Beijing Games is the American swimmer who has inspired a new generation with his simplicity of success. He has transcended swimming and sports in general to become the hero of all. Phelps fits.

What about the ones who paved the way to perfection? Before 1976, no gymnast had ever been perfect in any of their performances. Nadia Comaneci changed all that and revolutionized expectations for her sport. Before 2008, no swimmer, let alone athlete, had won eight gold medals out of the 8 events he participated in, all in world record time. That’s as perfect as it gets. Phelps fits again.

What about the athletes who dominated but was part of a team as most sports require? Michael Jordan was part of two Olympic basketball teams for the USA who steam rolled through the competition on the way to the gold medal. Some can argue that if basketball had individual events like the slam dunk and three point shooting contest, then more medals would be won by basketball players. Same goes for other team sports. But three eight of the eight eight golds won by Phelps did require teammates as he was only one of four swimmers who competed for that particular gold. So to a certain extent, Phelps still fits.

So any way you look at it, Michael Phelps does fit as the greatest Olympic athlete of all time. He shattered world records in world record fashion. He’s won the most gold medals ever. And he’s not done yet.

The only question remaining open for debate is if Michael Phelps is not just the greatest Olympian, but the greatest athlete in the history of mankind. It’s a question I reckon will not be answered easily or convincingly one way or the other. Michael Jordan and Muhamad Ali had much better careers outside the Olympics. You would also have to include athletes who have to be considered like Pele, Tiger Woods, Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky and others.

For now, let us just cherish and witness the greatest Olympic performance in the history of the games and be grateful that it happened in our lifetime.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

USA Redemption

There is something about embarrassment that drives the motivation of men with character.  The memory of humiliation burns in their souls and drives them to do whatever it takes to seek salvation from discomfit. 

The USA Basketball Team was pretty dominant most of last century when even college players was enough to be the best in the world.  But when Team USA lost in the 1988 Olympics, a whole nation got indignant and clamored for the country to send their best, which were the NBA superstars.  So the “Dream Team” was created for the 1992 Olympics with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird leading the way.  Almost everyone on the team was an eventual Hall of Famer.  They blew out every team they played in Barcelona on their way to a gold medal.  Mission accomplished.  Redemption for Team USA. 

For the next decade, the rest of the world slowly got more exposure and although Team USA was still sending NBA players, some Amercian stars started to give excuses for not committing to the cause. 

We started to see the emergence of non Americans in the NBA as all stars.  Names like Dirk Nowitski, Yao Ming, Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker started to turn some heads after the turn of the century.  Even non allstars like Andrei Kirilenko, Leandro Barbosa, and Andrew Bogut started making an impact in the league.

The red flags started in 2002.  While the subsequent teams in the 1996 (Atlanta) and 2000 (Sydney) Olympics won gold, the gap was slowly being closed from 1992.  While playing in front of their home crowd in Indianapolis at the 2002 World Basketball Championships, the USA team finished a dismal 6th.  The country who invented basketball was demolished in their backyard.  NBA talent alone was not enough anymore.  The rest of the world made a statement that basketball was a team sport and you can overcome athletic ability with beautiful, harmonious team play. 

So while the American players were blurting out more excuses for not joining the 2004 Athens Olympic team like security and the need for off season rest, the other countries used the biggest sporting event in the world to show the world that they were the best, and that playing for their country was still a top priority.  Led by then teenager Lebron James, Team USA barely came home with the bronze medal.  “Lebronze” became the chant as the team even lost to Lithuania in the first round and eventually got eliminated from contention by gold medal winner Argentina.

After the Athens debacle, Gerry Colangelo, the Phoenix Suns GM volunteered to rebuild Team USA using his knowledge of the international game.   He knew that Americans still had the best talent but had to change a lot in the attitude, mindset and system being used to build the team.  He needed commitment, not excuses.  He spoke with each player he recruited individually and made sure that those that were chosen understood what it was going to take.  He chose Mike Krzyzewski, the best college coach in the last 25 years to lead the team back to glory.

The first test was the World Basketball Championships in 2006 held in Japan.  After cruising through the first phase, they were shocked by Greece in the semi finals.  That last loss hurt like a dagger through the heart.  It hurt enough to get the same kind of indignation when the Soviet Union shattered Team USA’s invincibility back in 1988.  The anger and fury can be felt with how each player has committed himself to the cause.  You know the dedication is there when the best offensive player in the world in Kobe Bryant commits to being the defensive stopper of the team.

If the commitment is not enough, there are other reasons to think that the gold will be back in America’s hands in Beijing.  This team will have had about 30 games together which creates the familiarity necessary for team chemistry.  Dwayne Wade says “it’s a total 180 since the team has been together 3 years compared to 3 weeks in 2004.”  The same concept is true with their adversaries.  Many of the opponents’ players now play in the NBA so individually, there are now very little surprises. Each player’s style and tendencies should be more familiar now that they play at least 82 games in the NBA. 

There are still concerns about the size inside but overall, this is the most physically and mentally prepared team since 1992.  The combination of talent, commitment, chemistry, and resolve are indeed enough for the “Redeem Team” to live up to its name.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

ADMU Barely Hangs On

A lot of the top teams lost this week but Ateneo was the only one to recover with an impressive win over UST. The win sustained their number 1 ranking for the 4th straight week. San Beda is back as the top team in the NCAA even after their forfeited game. UP also peeks in the list for the 2nd time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On Rules and Uniforms

We need rules to have a semblance of order in how we interact as human beings.  Some are unwritten but understood by everyone involved as law and should be followed without question.  Most are documented as to not have any uncertainty for all concerned.  Some of the rules are more important than others as they have heavier consequences.

In basketball, similar circumstances can be applied.  There are some unwritten, where if you play and follow the sport, you know it’s part of the game, and there are some official guidelines written in a rulebook to get everyone on the same page.  Some are also more important than others.

For those who know basketball, there is an unwritten rule that you acknowledge your teammate who passed you the ball that led to a basket by pointing to them after the play.  You also never undercut a player while he’s in midair.  And you shouldn’t talk back to your coach during a game.  All these “understood” rules have different levels of consequences if not followed.  Whether it’s not getting the ball more often, being on the receiving end of an unwanted retaliation elbow, or sitting on the bench longer than normal, the result reciprocates the rule broken.

Through the many decades of their existence, the UAAP and the NCAA have written and revised many rules for their basketball tournament.  Player eligibilities, uniforms, game play, citizenship, and even the time allotted for cheerleaders to perform have regulations.  All are important to uphold the integrity, order, and credibility of the league.  But again, some should be more significant than others.

A few weeks ago, Sam Ekwe of San Beda College (SBC) Red Lions, along with Kirk Long and Vince Burke of the Ateneo (ADMU) Blue Eagles wore uniforms with a slight difference from the rest of their teammates.  All three were in violation of not wearing their official team uniforms since some sponsor logos and the like were different or missing compared to the rest of their teammates.  Both the Red Lions and the Blue Eagles won their matches convincingly.  The opponent of SBC, the College of St. Benilde (CSB) filed a protest.  The University of the Philippines (UP) who played Ateneo during their game in question did not.  The CSB protest resulted in the forfeiture of the SBC win.

For whatever reason given, whether valid or not, SBC and ADMU broke the rules.  The NCAA was absolutely correct to follow their rules in taking away the win of San Beda if that was the written law.  No interpretations needed.  You wear the wrong uniform while playing on the court, the game is an automatic loss for your team.  If UP filed a protest, the UAAP would have probably followed their rules which I reckon are similar to the NCAA’s and would also ruin their top team’s undefeated season at that point. That’s how it is in real life and that’s how it should be in basketball.

Inside and outside basketball, rules are made giving different levels of penalties commensurate to the offense.  Within any given game, different violations merit different results.  Free throws, technical fouls, turnovers, and the like are granted for various infractions. 

Along the same lines, I do believe that both leagues have to consider different levels of penalties for different infractions for future seasons.  Giving a victory to a team who was obviously outplayed on the court because an opposing player wore a slightly different uniform doesn’t seem right.  Fielding a player who did not pass the eligibility requirements is a much graver offense than having an extra logo on your jersey.  But both have the same consequence.  There are other ways to reprimand lighter violations.  A monetary fine, a suspension for that player during the next game, or even community service are options.  The UAAP slapped two technical free throws in favor of Ateneo in their first game against La Salle when Franz Pumaren failed to wear a required ID.

Life is not much different.  All actions don’t all have the same consequences.  Whatever rules we have in court, corporations, schools, clubs, fraternities, organizations, associations, and all other groups, the penalties are derived from the gravity of the felony.  Those who arrive late for meetings are not as accountable versus those who don’t arrive at all.  Those who steal won’t be serving the same amount of jail time as those who kill.  And of course those who wear the wrong uniforms to school would have a better chance to make it up compared to those who fail a final exam. 

Players should wear the right uniforms just as they should pass their courses in school.  But let’s keep in mind which one is more important and penalize accordingly.

That’s how it is in real life and that’s how it should be in basketball.

JRU Continues to Move Up

Jose Rizal continues it's hot streak and has climbed all the way to #6 after a very slow start. Ateneo and Letran stays undefeated to keep their top spots accordingly. CSB with an added forfeit win also enters the list again.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Upset City!

We got our biggest upset of the year so far with UE falling to Adamson for their second loss. SBC also got upset by JRU along with their forfeiture but those results will be reflected in next week's rankings.
The rankings are getting more interesting and exciting with upsets starting to happen and some teams turning thing around like the Heavy Bombers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Is Basketball Worth It?

THE building and maintaining of a long-term national-team program for basketball has long been a project many have attempted to be a part of. For those who have been around long enough to remember, it’s true that the Philippines was at one time considered the best in Asia and certainly world class in the sport. But many who follow basketball now weren’t even born yet (yours truly included) when that happened and most of us now continue to wonder if it’s still worth spending the time, money and energy to try to get back some of that old glory again.

It’s still a wonder to me as to why Filipinos, despite the lack of height and athletic ability, love basketball so much. We play it, and follow it with a passion like no other sport. The money spent on basketball exceeds all other sports combined. The country overflows with basketball tournaments and leagues for all levels of talent. The availability of hoops on television has got to be more than any other country in the world. Basketball TV has the NBA, the PBL, the Euroleague, WNBA, the NBDL, FIBA, and whatever else worldwide tournament there is. Then there’s Liga Pilipinas to add to the PBA and the UAAP/NCAA. If you count all the different leagues and tournaments, there are now over 1000 games shown on Philippine TV with only 365 days in a year.

With so much obvious interest and passion, we as a country cannot turn our backs on building the best national team possible. The now-defunct Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) embarrassed our country when they were in charge of the country’s relationship with FIBA, the worldwide body who runs the basketball affairs. Once, we even sent the team from the Philippine College of Criminology to represent the country, a college that would’ve been lucky to be considered in the top 20 in the Philippines. 

The new group Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) seems to have more direction and less self-serving intentions. We appreciate the PBL and Mikee Romero and others who have helped the SBP and sacrificed for the country, but unless we have PBA players, we will not have a chance outside Southeast Asia. With pro players, a ninth-place finish in Asia is a big disapointment. Without the pro players, we languished between the 12th and 16th spots in Asia. Our hearts can only take us so far, we still need enough talent to go along with it.

The PBA last week declared once again to commit their players and resources to build a national program. When I headed the marketing of the PBA four years ago, the participation of the league toward a national team was in my mind crucial to the league’s popularity and a goodwill gesture toward the basketball community. The best players, coaches and technology belonged to the PBA. I bought into Noli Eala’s vision that in order to make the pro league popular again, a full commitment was needed to the Philippine team. The PBA calendar was adjusted to coincide with the FIBA schedules. Now, commissioner Sonny Barrios along with the Board of Governors are recommitting the league after a disappointing ninth-place finish in the FIBA Asia Championships. The risk is there. Ticket sales and ratings have been known to drop when the focus is taken out of the actual PBA tournament and shifted to the national team. And what if we finish ninth again in the next qualifiers? It also costs many, many millions to build and sustain a team. Many say that we are spending too much money and paying too much attention to something that we don’t have a chance in being the best in the world at. 

So is it worth the risk? 

Absolutely. We as a race may not be as gifted or as talented in basketball, but our passion as a nation and our love for the sport counts for a whole lot. Basketball is our love. When you love something, you don’t settle for second best. So bring on all the risk and the problems that come with putting together the best national team as possible. We’ll let our love for the game figure out how to solve whatever comes our way. Our countrymen need to know that we are doing everything possible because the sport fuels our hearts. Sending another team like the Philippine College of Criminology is much more expensive alternative if you consider value for money, not to mention pride and credibility in the international community.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Eagles Fly High to #1

After convincing wins versus the defending UAAP champs and the UE Warriors who swept through the eliminations last year, Ateneo has taken the top spot as the only undefeated UAAP team left. SBC had a couple of close calls but remain with a clean slate along with Letran.

San Sebastian re-enters the top 15 replacing UP who got a rude awakening back to reality from a blowout by UST.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

U.P. Cracks the Top 15

Expectations have been low for State U this year after a winless season last year. After their opening game victory, the Fighting Maroons find themselves part of the Power Rankings list. Aboy Castro and his team gained a lot of confidence last Sunday and can get more upsets as the season progresses. I also had UP at #15 this week.

UE has been my #1 all three weeks with SBC at #2. ADMU for me holds on at #3 with their win against DLSU. CSB was the other team also making it for the first time while Letran continues to move up the list with each impressive performance. It seems that the San Beda inactivity made some voters relegate them to #3.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Case of the Missing ID

Everyone in Araneta seemed to be confused as to why Chris Tiu shot two free throws before the Ateneo-La Salle game even started.  The newspapers the next day attributed it to the violation of the Archer coaching staff by not wearing their ID's for the game.  

I actually thought it was because of an infraction that happened during the round robin warmups.  I was on the Patron area close enough to really see a lot of the action.  One of the DLSU players (I think it was Barua), in his eagerness and probably adrenalin leading up to the game dunked the ball and hung on the rim for a few seconds.  A whistle from a referee followed who saw what happened.  He then started talking to the player explaining that you can't hang on the rim even during warmups.  So when Tiu shot free throws before the jump ball, it seemed logical that the foul shots were because of a technical called for hanging on the rim.

Giving free throws for something unrelated to the actual game (like not wearing ID's) seems a little inappropriate.  Failure to follow rules unrelated to the game play should have consequences that are also unrelated to the game.  Maybe a monetary fine, some sort of reprimand was in order but not a penalty that has potential to effect the actual game.  

Now coach Pumaren is claiming selective implementation citing the UST coaching staff also guilty of the same violation but with no free throws given to the opponent.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

PCC Power Rankings Week 2

My list still had San Beda at number 2 with UE keeping the top spot. It looks like the Red Lions' performance against Mapua really made an impression with the voters as they have taken over the top spot. The Altas jump into the top 15 with their unexpected win and Letran inches up the rankings after their first game.

Next week's rankings will include the results of the first batch of UAAP games with Ateneo or LaSalle at least getting a loss and dropping a few notches in the rankings.

The Cebu rankings are also in from Cebu media for this week.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Is There No One Else?

Visions of Achilles taunting would be challengers really do come to mind after the complete domination displayed by Manny Pacquiao yesterday. There was no time at all where it seemed that the verdict was in jeopardy. It was apparent that after the 3rd round or so, the only suspense that remained was which round will the champion Diaz finally succumb to the barrage of punches coming too quick for him to do anything about.

I grew up in Chicago and I must admire the gallant effort from Diaz. The city is known for its grit and strength of character. Pacman was just too good that he looked like he wasn't trying as hard. It seemed like a walk in the park for our hero.

At least once again for a brief moment, Filipinos felt on the top of the world despite all the difficulties in their lives.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Who's the Best? (this week)

This is it.  A personal project has come to fruition with the help of the Solar guys and of course the sports media.  We rank the top college basketball teams every week.  A group of sports media people have agreed to be part of a voting process to determine where each school stands every week leading up to the national championship.  Contributors include the Philippines Star, Manila Bulletin, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Pinoyexchange, BTV, Studio 23, Business Mirror, Universitybelt, Basketbolista, Manila Standard, Inboundpass, and Gamface.There are others and I will post the full list when I get it.  The winner of the Philippine Collegiate Championships will represent the Philippines in the World University Games in Serbia.  

I get to vote and I will post my rankings here every week.  The actual rankings based on everyone's contribution will be published in the Philippine Star sports section and various other publications/websites like Basketbolista, Pinoyexchange, Gameface, Inboundpass, and others.  This is a very subjective list but it's gonna be fun to see how it goes for the next few months as teams start beating up on each other.

My rankings for this week were as follows: 1.UE 2.SBC 3.ADMU 4.DLSU 5.FEU 6.CSJL 7.UST 8.JRU 9.ADU 10.MIT 11.SSC 12.NU 13.PCU 14.STI 15.EAC.  It is still pre season so a lot of uncertainties and many teams not having a lot of exposure.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Can They Bring Back the Gold?

Today, USA Basketball announced the NBA players who will be representing the USA for this year's Olympics.  They were Dwight Howard, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Michael Redd, Jason Kidd and Tayshaun Prince.

For the most part, it seems like a lineup that has the talent, the willpower and the dedication to win back the gold for the United States.  I like the fact they kept Tayshaun Prince to challenge the outside shots and switch on the pick and rolls.  This team has the best scorers, passers and shooters in the world.

There is one concern I have.  Size.  Dwight Howard is the only true center and it seems that only he and Carlos Boozer have the ability to bang on a daily basis which is what it's gonna take if they want to be Olympic champs again.  What happens if one or both get in foul trouble?  Gasol, Bogut, Yao, and Nowitski are all in the same level as our bigmen.  Interior defense broke down with the countless back door plays from the top tier teams in the world.  Also outside of those two big guys, there are no other true post up players to take the pressure off the guards and small forwards.  Maybe a Kevin Garnett, or Elton Brand off the bench instead of 8 guards (not counting Prince who plays guard sometimes) would give Team USA a better chance.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Zero to Hero

Gilbert Arenas comes to the Philippines for the adidas Agent Zero Tour
Gilbert Arenas, one of the best point guards in the National Basketball Association and known as "Agent Zero" being the only player wearing the number 0 jersey, comes to Manila for the adidas Agent Zero Tour 2008.
Arenas has collaborated with adidas with its thrust for Brotherhood and the core values of basketball and have come up with the Gil II Zero collection including the Gil Zero shoes and clothing apparel.
Arenas plays for the Washington Wizards and has been known for his fierce competitiveness and "shoot-first pass-second" technique on the court. Lovers of the sport watch out for his slashing drives to the basket and long-range jump shots. Arenas showcases the many facets of his beliefs with eight Gil Zero shoes including Black President, Vote for Gilbert, Channel Zero, NBA Live 2008, Hibachi, Customize, I Love L.A. and Agent Zero. Learn about the story behind each of these shoes at These shoes correspond to the eight core values of basketball namely Confidence, Commitment, Passion, Respect, Inspire, Sacrifice, Trust and Innovative - all these promoting Brotherhood in the game.
The Agent Zero Tour 2008 will feature community events, exclusive parties, and mall tours. On July 6, Gilbert Arenas is scheduled to visit adidas concept stores including Mall of Asia store at 11:00 a.m., Rockwell store at 2:00 p.m., and TriNoma store at 5:00 p.m. This will be followed by the Agent Zero Tour 2008 statement show at the TriNoma Activity Center at 6:00 p.m. where fans and sports buffs alike can have a once-in-a-lifetime experience to meet and greet Gilbert Arenas. Guests will enjoy the activities surrounding the venue and get the chance to have their Gil Zero shoes autographed. For more details on how to join, please check out Agent Zero Tour 2008 information at adidas stores in Mall of Asia, Rockwell, and TriNoma.
While in Manila, Gilbert Arenas will also officially lead the turnover of a basketball court to a Gawad Kalinga community as part of adidas'
mission to help promote sports among the youth.

Go Green

Before the playoffs started, I joined an NBA bracket pool organized by Mo Twister, who is a huge NBA fan. I picked the Boston Celtics to beat the LA Lakers in 6 games. It was part because I thought those two teams had the best chance but also because I was hoping for the best possible matchup for all the fans. The only series that I got wrong was the Suns losing to the Spurs but I must admit that the Celts got me very nervous in the first round.

We received the ratings for the first 4 games of the finals and the numbers are very encouraging. All games hit #1 in the 4th quarter with games 1,2, and 4 staying at the top spot for over an hour! There were certain points in games 2 and 4 where the game had a 40% share towards the end of the game. Game 4's average share of 26% is the highest in the history of Philippine NBA coverage.

So the NBA and all the partner networks around the world join the Celtics in celebrating a glorious finals where the two best and most popular teams met and created interest the league has needed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Where "The Best Ratings Ever" Happens

In the middle of the NBA season, when the Lakers traded for Pau Gasol, many started to dream of a finals series between Boston and Los Angeles.  Why not?  The Celtics had the best record in the league and with the addition of the Spanish center, the Lakers had arguably the best starting five (5) in the world.  There were questions for both squads.  Will Pau fit into the triangle and other schemes of Phil Jackson.  The Celtics, despite their record and their talent, didn't have anyone who had a championship ring in their lineup until they signed Cassel and Brown.  

Now that all the hopes and dreams have materialized, expectations on viewership and interest have been met.  In the U.S. ratings were up almost 40% from previous year for ABC 7.  Here in the Philippines, the buzz is at an all time high.  In fact, game two (2) was the highest ever rated NBA game in the Philippines based on unofficial AC Nielsen numbers.  According to the same survey, RPN9 even overtook ABS-CBN2 and GMA7 for a short time right before noon in the 4th quarter of the game.  

Sometimes, you really just do your best to market the product and hope for the best circumstances to happen.  This is why we all love the NBA, where "the best possible finals matchup for the popularity of the league" happens.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

It's Always Good to Clarify

This post is actually a clarification on a point published in a previous post and included in Quinito Henson's article.  I can take it back since I should have classified it as a personal opinion rather than truth.  Mindshare wanted some sort of retraction from the statement "overwhelmingly recommended" since according to them, they did not recommend a channel one way or another.  Maybe ABS-CBN is on their case about it.

I based that statement from the following article last May 27 written by Ronnie Nathanielsz, at the Manila Standard stating projections by Mindshare... "It was also reported that if the PBA games were aired on RPN-9, they would rate around 7.5 percent while if aired on Studio 23 they would rate around 1.8 percent."  In my opinion, if your projection is for a channel to rate over four (4) times more than another network, it is practically a recommendation.

So my apologies to Mindshare if the statement caused undue strife. I did not mean to put words in their mouth.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

More Solar Advantages

Equipment.  Solar just purchased a brand new digital 6 (Sony) camera system used by the NBA to cover the games.  The system can take in as much as 12 cameras  and is capable of capturing slow motion in all cameras as opposed to only 1 slomo camera used in all of today's local coverages.  It also will have the inscriber graphic system which is the same they use in the U.S. basketball coverages.  The Sony digital cameras should also improve the clarity of signal when watched on television.

Studio 23 will most likely use the same equipment they use for the UAAP, which is the same used for the MBA.  That system is about 10 years old and although it is adequate, a lot of innovations have happened the last decade since.

A new LED system will also be installed to upgrade the current system on court being used by ABC5.  Animations and other new features will now be available for the a better and more exciting coverage.

So the graphics, clarity, and other capabilities will be the best in the country if the PBA chooses Solar.  The PBA deserves only the best and they will get it. 

Experience.  Solar has a proven sales team that can generate the revenues.  It is composed of many sales people from Vintage who generated the most tv sales for the league in its history.  The sales and marketing team also has experience from companies like ABS-CBN, GMA7, Globe Telecom, San Miguel Corporation, Ayala Corporation, Nike Philippines and MTV.  I, for one have also worked for the PBA knowing a lot of the needs of the league on how to improve things.  I also have experience working for 3 of the top 10 corporations in the country (San Miguel, Ayala Corp, ABS-CBN) so learnings from that can add to making the partnership successful.  

The Solar team also has worked closely with the NBA visiting their studios in New Jersey and has attended many NBA world class events like the NBA Allstar games and Finals where learnings can be transferred to the PBA.  The experience with working with the biggest basketball league in the world is invaluable.

As far as production goes, many from the current team came from Vintage and ABS-CBN as well.  So whether in front or behind the camera, the PBA will get the most experienced and talented crew for the games.  Production talent is not exclusive to any one network.  The best people want to work for the best properties and Solar will hire the best for the PBA.  The Solar team from production to marketing to sales to programming has as much experience if not more when it comes to sports broadcasting compared to other groups out there.

More Reasons to Choose Solar

I forwarded most of what I've written to Quinito Henson and he's agreed to publish most of this stuff on his column for the Philippines Star.  I'm adding two more reasons for this post.

Timeslot.  ABS wants to play the games on Sunday morning so they can show it on channel 2.  Although this might be something different and even worth trying, nobody will want to watch a regular PBA game live at the venue on Sunday morning.  If a big boxing event like the "Invasion" promoted through the ABS media machinery can only draw 5,000, which is about the average attendance of the PBA, it will be considerably less for a regular PBA game.  A Pacquiao fight is a 2-3 times a year event.  Having PBA games on Sunday mornings on a regular basis will not get people to skip church and family lunches on Sundays.

Solar has a solid blocktime agreement with RPN 9 which gives the outfit the flexibility to air the PBA games so all games will be given priority on the channel to ensure the exposure for the teams.  All games will also be replayed on Basketball TV.

Positioning.  Solar presented a very compelling re-positioning plan for the league and its coverage based on experience and the current situation in the market.  It is a complete makeover and change from how the current coverage was being handled.  It is the kind of out of the box thinking that can give the league a boost in popularity using principles from recent bestsellers like "The Tipping Point" and "The Long Tail".  It goes beyond showbiz cross promotions and a morning time slot.  It touches on "social epidemics" and how the PBA has to attract the select few who influence the lives and mold perceptions of the masses. Solar will bring class back to the league and attract all social classes again, not just the lower class.   (one more post on this topic after this).