Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Audience (And Player) Participation

The past week's sports news had Burger King's Wynne Arboleda's succesful attack on a fan Alain Katigbak at the Araneta during a semi exhibition game. (the game only counts for 1 of the teams).

What rights do tickets to any kind of game entail? Fans pay good money to watch games mainly to be part of history, the possibility to be part of a moment they will remember for a lifetime. Some do it because watching live certainly brings a lot more to the viewing experience than staring at a square screen nomatter how HD it is. For some it gives them a chance to be within an earshot of the larger than life athletes you normally only see on billboards, newspapers and television.

So who draws the line and where is it drawn as far as interaction between players and fans go? Hecklers are part of the game. It's part of the elements athletes have to contend with when they sign up to play for pay. For all of us who have watched thousands of games, we know that some passionate fans say the nastiest things specifically to distract and rattle some players to get them off their game. The good players learn to ignore and the great ones even use it to fuel themselves and take their game to the next level and get the W's.

Unfortunately, Mr. Arboleda isn't one of the great ones. He is at best an average PBA point guard (for the record, an average PBA point guard is still among the top in the country) who a couple of weeks earlier had his manhood questioned when he was on the wrong end of a blowout when two National Teams competed for a cause. In a semi rematch (same coaches and many players) he couldn't ignore the verbal assaults from Mr. Katigbak and in fact took it personally and instead of his game going to the next level, he took his emotions to the next level and went into a full assault. He would have made Dana White of the UFC proud.

We all know basketball can create very emotional situations. But it's still only a game. At the end of the day, whether you win or lose, it doesn't affect things that matter most in real life, your health, family, and friends, etc.

So my hats off to the commissioner for sending a strong message. Professional athletes are paid to play their best regardless of the elements around them. There are security personnel to take care of the rowdy fans. We rely on them for security and order just as we rely on the players to play good basketball. And oh yes, we rely on fans to keep the league alive.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Best for Japeth

I think most have already said what needs to be said about Japeth but just so I can get it out of my system, here goes another opinion on the matter.

Being a great potential talent attracts all kinds of characters and opportunities. Japeth, it seems always decides to go with whatever's he feels best for himself. He went to Ateneo because Norman Black was going to be a great teacher. He transferred to Western Kentucky because the competition was going to make him better. And he came back here because he felt he was the best young prospect who had Filipino blood.

When he first moved back, I'm sure he felt very wanted. The PBA, Team Pilipinas, agents, coaches, teams, etc. all wanted a piece of him. A young guy getting pulled in different directions can get a little confused as to what he wants. I'm sure he wanted everything that was offered him.

My general gut feel is that he did not enjoy playing for coach Yeng Guiao. Yeng is a love 'em or hate 'em kind of coach. He is known for yelling at his players, saying harsh things as a motivational tool to push them. Problem in this case is that Japeth had other options. So given the choices, he will always opt for what he feels is best for himself, not necessarity what's more popular. Some people just don't like getting yelled at I guess. I'm sure other players don't like it either. Difference is, the other players don't have a choice.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What's Wrong with DLSU?

DLSU has 4 games left and it seems they will have to win at least 3 of those to have an outside chance of making it to the final four.  With FEU, UE, and UST among those who they still have to play, I would give them less than 50% chance of making it this year.  I'm not sure if La Salle has ever missed the final four since joining the UAAP.

I would venture to say that if results are the barometer, the Green Archer program has been the most successful since joining the UAAP in the 80's.  It was always a big surprise if they did not make it to the finals each and every year.  The other schools would take turns getting there, UST, FEU, ADMU got their share of titles but it was almost always DLSU that they had to beat.  Heck, I wouldn't be writing about this very topic if this was happening to another team.

What would be the main reason for this sudden change in elite status?  All of a sudden, the swagger is gone?

In my opinion, they've blown it in recruitment for about two years.  As they watched other schools convince blue chip high school players from 2-3 years ago, they are paying the price as their veterans right now are not as talented.  The board might have had a little to do with it.  Remember the Fil-Foreigner residency rule of 2 years?  The Archers used to rely heavily on Fil Foreigners recruited by their extensive network abroad.  Don Allado, Mon Jose, Mike Cortez, Calijohn Orfrecio, Manny Ramos are some players who made an impact off the top of my head.  La Salle did not adjust well right away.

Basketball is still a player's sport.  I think 70% of your chances lie in the talent you have.  The other 30% comes from coaching and chemistry.  They used to get the PBA caliber recruits.  Limpot, Webb, Telan, Allado, Cortez, Ritualo, Espinosa, Cardona, Aldeguer and a host of others made sure the green and white was a title contender.  Now, the other schools have been able to snatch the best from the last few years.  

La Salle has had good recruiting classes the last 2 years but it will take another year or two before those players can become among the elite in the UAAP.  So for now, the void in not being able to recruit the best from 3-4 years ago has caught up with them.  I think the coaching staff and the alumni care too much and are smart enough not to make this linger for longer than 1 or at most 2 years.

So far, it has been obvious that DLSU has gotten very much used to winning and many are uncertain how to react to all this losing.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Mother of Our Nation R.I.P.

The first and only time I’ve gotten to meet and talk to “Tita Cory” was predictably a sports related event. My family had moved to Chicago shortly after her husband’s assassination so I watched as a teenager from afar when the ESDA revolution happened.

I moved back to the Philippines in 1995 after college graduation and was working in sports media within a few months. For some reason, she was the guest of honor at the Grant Hill Philippine visit through FILA.

She was the unwilling leader who (and it was obvious) did not want to have anything to do with politics. She looked like a housewife. She acted like a housewife. She spoke like a housewife. It was this trait that I think endeared her to the Filipino people. She was the anti politician. She was the mother for all to follow. For all to get comfort. And for all to be free again.

As friends with some of the members of the Aquino family, I offer not only my condolences but my gratitude for being a beacon for us all as we continue to figure out our very imperfect democracy.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lessons from Kobe

I went with Vince & Patricia Hizon along with Dodot Jaworski & his kids.  The traffic around Ultra was at a standstill since the event coincided with the dismissal of St. Paul across the street.  I had already interviewed him a few times during my assignments  at the NBA All Stars but anytime you get a chance to see him up close, you gotta take it.

The most eventful part of the afternoon was when Kobe took aside Nico Salva from the Ateneo Blue Eagles and gave him about 20 minutes worth of personal instruction.  He went through part of his daily training routine on offense.

I thought two things Kobe said was worth taking note.  First, the attention to details.  You have to check film and practice to the extent of where you hold the ball while making your move.  It ensures protection from being stripped by placing it at the right place for the duration of the possession.  Details on the footsteps for the most efficient way to get the shot off.  

Once you've figured out the details, the second is in the repetition.  Muscle memory is learned even for the most difficult and spectacular plays.  Kobe seems to practice and repeat as many kinds of iterations possible from the basic to the complicated of shots.  The repetition also gets you tired enough to know the feeling so that you can adjust to the fatigue during the real game.

Kobe is as good as it gets right now as far as basketball is concerned.  It was a pleasure to see him again in the flesh. 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

C.E.O. of the P.I.?

I met him once before, many years ago, and in Chicago while he was visiting one of his old classmates (who was my “ninang”) during one of his U.S. trips to visit his children studying in the Midwest. He became a hero of sorts as he led the House of Representatives in the filing of impeachment raps against Joseph Estrada. And he continued his rise in Politics as he became a member of the Upper House and eventually became the President of the Senate.

I, along with a few other bloggers got a whole morning’s worth of face time with Manny Villar, one of presidential bets for next year’s elections. Just a quiet discussion on a whole range of topics predictably related to his bid next year. I was there to represent the sports bloggers (yes, it's true, that's the reason!), a genre he has started to support in the last few years.

Here are my impressions:

Villar is a very simple man with very big accomplishments. He breaks down the issues into its simplest form before he offers a solution. He seems to be a very practical person and a great manager. He’s still a little shaky talking about the environment as he hasn’t proactively pursued the issue as politician. He has done a lot but really publicized it like others in politics.

As most other politicians, he parades his record as one of leadership and accomplishment. It seems though, the Philippines still has a long way to go in its maturity to consider those criteria as most important for voters. The Senator realizes this, which is why most of his efforts are geared toward his popularity, as much as he’d prefer it not to be.

There were a couple of issues that got his juices flowing. You can tell if a man is passionate about something by the look in his eyes and the conviction of his voice. You start talking about the OFW’s, the unsung heroes of our generations, and he will gladly spend a few cups of coffee discussion how helping them will be a big part of his presidency. He is already helping many, out of his own pocket because of his passion for the issue.

The other issue that made his eyes light up was entrepreneurship. This is a topic that doesn’t excite most people, which is why he hardly brings it up. But the smile in his face and the authority in his voice made it obvious that this was the topic closest to his heart. “Entrepreneurship will be the lifeblood of our economy” he says. “Our people need to learn to compete, and how to grow their money”. These are words full of credibility coming from man who started with nothing to now being one of the wealthiest in the Philippines. He even gave some very practical financial advice to boot (which might be for another entry) but the topic of business and money seems to be his forte.

Lastly, as a sports blogger, we did have to tackle some sports stuff so I asked him about why he sponsors Billiards and his opinion of the Pacman running again for public office. The first was simple, his name sounds like the Filipino pronunciation of Billiards, thus the tie-in. As for the second question, he like most of the Philippine population wants to see more of the other Manny as the boxer who has inspired a nation. “He has done something all of us politicians haven’t done, unite the country at least for brief moments”.

Overall, he seems to be one of the candidates least prone to corruption. He doesn’t need the money, and does have respect of his peers (thus not having to buy loyalty). Only time will tell if he becomes our country’s CEO.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekend Couch Potato

It's been awhile since I made a update. The new job has gotten me very preoccupied with running some cable channels. I was able to finally watch some games the last few days.

Last weekend was great for sports fans. We got UFC 100, the UAAP Opening games, some F1 racing, and a PBA Finals game on a Monday for an encore.

UFC 100 was like most of the first 99 and most other bigtime events and games. The build up was much cooler than the actual. Not that it lacked enough excitment becuase it had its moments. The problem sometimes with the UFC is that you really have to appreciate the intricacies of Jujitsu and the ground game to be entertained by it.

The UAAP had a mixture of blowouts and exciting games. Ateneo and FEU are shoe-ins for the Final Four while the other 6 will be fighting for the last two slots. With the top two having a twice to beat advantage, it would take some major improvements from the other teams for major injuries from FEU/ADMU for us to see a non Tamaraw/Blue Eagle finals.

For the PBA, only one game out of the first five was extra exciting. Let's hope game 6 and maybe 7 will have more suspense. They did flash a stat that only 1 out of the last 4 times did the team who won game 5 eventually became champs. That bodes well if the PBA wants at least a game 7.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Empire Strikes Back

Most people actually probably don't care too much what's going on with the country's basketball program. Although I've given up my post in Solar for FOX, I do still care about sports in the Philippines. I've been busy with the new job but reading about how the progress of our basketball program might be derailed again, it got me irritated again.

Graham Lim, a foreigner who ruined the Philippines' international basketball stature, is like Jason from those Friday the 13th movies. He just keeps on coming back no matter how many times to seem to have gotten rid of him. I'm not really sure what exactly this guy has done, or why he still has some influence but he must have done the FIBA guys a huge favor at some point in his life because they seem to act like they owe him something.

He is supported by two politicians (now you know why things are getting screwed up) who also hasn't done anything for Philippine Basketball as long as I can remember. They have convinced FIBA that we were better off being 16th best in Asia instead of now having a legitimate chance of qualifying for the World Basketball Championships meaning we would be among the top 3. They have convinced FIBA that the SBP is doing even worse that when we were at our worse.

This is a slam dunk no brainer case of KSP from the BAP. Please move on and and get a life. Please.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


The PBA National Team will qualify for the FIBA Asia Championships.  The problem is so can a dozen other teams from the Philippines.  All they have to do is get to the top two of the 4 team tournament.  Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia are the other teams.  Thailand, a normal contender in SEA is not even trying to qualify.

I can understand the PBA Board wanting to ensure that we have a slot for the World Basketball Championships qualifier.  But I think their fears were very misguided as the talent level in Southeast Asia right now is equivalent to a good college team here.  

Now news that Ryan Reyes has joined Helterbrand with a pulled hamstring.  I'm sure Yeng Guiao is trying to figure out what kind of things they can take away from the tournament that will not test this team any bit.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Disneyland or Disneyworld?

It's time to make predictions once again.  This year, the Lakers are back in the Finals but a mild surprise in Orlando awaits them.  I'm not sure about the Vegas odds but I reckon you would've made a lot of money if you bet on the Magic for the Finals appearance before the season started.

I think it would be a huge upset if the Lakers lose this series.  All they really have to do is attack Dwight Howard to get him in foul trouble then make sure to disrupt the rhythm of the Magic shooters.  If Orlando doesn't shoot well, they don't have a chance.

Looking at all factors, the Lakers have the advantage.  LA has the better coach, the better superstar, the better supporting cast, and a lot more (better?) playoff experience.  But the NBA is where Amazing Happens and this is why we still all watch so wait and see when Amazing will Happen again.

It's my first finals in the last four years sans thinking about selling and marketing the series.  Not sure if this matchup beats last year's ratings but if Orlando shoots lights out, it'll come close.

Lakers in 6.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Is Fatigue a Valid Excuse?

I covered the 2nd game last night and one of the reasons that Alaska used was that they were tired which is why the energy was nonexistent. When I was part of the commissioner's office, teams complained all the time if they were scheduled consecutive playdates (ex: sunday then wednesday).

I'm not sure if the conditioning programs are not as comprehensive here but PBA players play maybe 50 games a year (18 elimnations plus playoffs in each conference). Those 50 games are spread out through 9 months which averages out to 5.5 games every month. It seems to me that playing less than two (2) games a week should be easy if you are in tip top shape and play basketball for a living.

The NBA players play back to backs all the time and play at least 2-3 games a week. I don't remeber players using fatigue as an excuse for not playing with energy. I realize PBA players get paid very little compared to the rest of the world but to play 4 to 5 games a month and get paid hundreds of thousands of pesos to do it aint so bad.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Does Lebron Have a Good Enough Supporting Cast?

Lebron's shot that saved Ohio will be played over and over for the rest of the NBA playoffs and many seasons to come. But can he do it seven (7) more times to win his first NBA Championship? Well, if we consider the composition of other winners, the Cavs are going to have a very difficult time.

The teams that have won have always had a superstar. It's a given. Magic Johnson, Julius Irving, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Dwane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Hakeem Olajuwon. In some cases, they had teammates who were in the same level. Moses Malone, Shaq and Kareem would certainly be in the same category in their prime. In Cleveland's case, Lebron fits the bill perfectly.

Most champions also has an all star on the same team. A player who's not a superstar but will undoubtedly be in the Hall of Fame. Scottie Pippen, Manu Ginobili, Kevin Mchale, Robert Parish, and James Worthy would be in that group.

There were some minor exceptions like Detroit but they still would have at least 2 Hall of Famers on their team but no true superstar.

I still don't see a second Hall of Famer in this year's Cleveland team. Lebron is awesome but he will have an off day here and there like everyone else. Another Cavalier will have to prove they can take over in a stage with this kind of pressure. So in the home of the Rock and Roll hall of fame, I think Cleveland needs to have a future Basketball Hall of Famer step up and join LBJ to get the Larry Obrien trophy.

This current Cleveland team is not that different from Pat Riley's Knicks and Shaq's Orlando team who got creamed in the Finals. Both had a superstar (Ewing/Shaq) but were surrounded by "almost hall of famers". The Cavs are fortunate that Orlando is kinda in the same situation where there is no clear cut Hall of Famer outside of Dwight Howard.

Where Amazing Happened

This has got to be the most entertaining Conf. Finals (East & West) in a very long time!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blue Eagles Pre Season

This was emailed to me by Jose Flores, a fellow Northwestern alumnus who was able to watch some tune up games by the Ateneo Blue Eagles in North America. Those who cheer for Ateneo might be interested.

"They did well esp. against bad calls esp. with UBC Thunderbirds. Blue Eagles were down by twenty points in the first quarter then won last three quarters but still lost 90-77. Against SFU in front of a full house of Ateneo fans we lost 85-77. Admu was down by three with ninety seconds left. Our boys missed ten foul shots. Salamat's three points was negated at the end of the Third with a second left. The boys should compete well in the UAAP. They do need a swingman like Oping Sumanilog. Two peat looks good."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Leap of Faith

Every once in awhile, you gotta step out of your comfort zone and see if you can spread you wings some more.  

When an opportunity knocks, you look closely who's on the other end and check if it's worth opening the door.  After a long decision process to determine pros and cons of leaving a job I love and taking on another with a lot of potential but laced with uncertainly and challenge, I ended up with more check marks under "pros".

I have done all I've wanted in sports broadcasting both in front and behind the camera.  I have covered and marketed the NBA and the PBA, started my broadcast career with the UAAP, and have been part of the team to the Beijing Olympics.  I marketed the 2006 World Cup, interviewed world class athletes, and have been involved in practically every big time sports relevant to the Philippines.  I have worked with the best people in sports: All the media, coaches, players, officials, executives and everyone else who makes our sports culture tick.  

I have been to Macau, Houston, New Orleans, Portland, Singapore, Las Vegas, Jakarta, Phoenix, Chicago, and all parts of the Philippines for my job.  Solar (and its other channels) as a brand is much stronger now compared to 5 years ago.  It has truly been awesome to be part of the growth and transformation.

Now it's time to expand my universe and give another genre a shot.  I will be joining the Fox International Channels next month to start an office here in the Philippines.  It is different (at least for me) but exciting.  I am anxious but confident.  And I'm hoping the ride will be just as fulfilling.  Thank you to everyone for all your support.  I will continue to be a huge sports fan.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Moving On

It has been a very fulfilling four (4) years working for Solar Entertainment as head of sales and marketing.  We tried a lot of things.  Some worked, some didn't.  Solar certainly is much bigger now since 2005 when I first started but I've decided to accept an offer from another company so it's time to remember why Solar was such a great experience for me.

10.  Great clients.  I was able to work with many in the media and advertising industry who know their stuff and how the television business works.

9.  Acquisition of the PBA.  The process of winning a tv coverage bid and the continuing efforts to improve the league was very satisfying.

8.  Great partners.  You can't get any better than working with the NBA, the PBA, the IOC, the PGA, Top Rank, GMA7, IMG, and many others who were very professional in the way they handled things.  It was also great to work closely with the sports media.

7.  Olympic Experience.  I was part of the team who brought the most comprehensive coverage to the Philippines and was able to generate the highest amount of sponsorships ever.  The experience in Beijing was also priceless.

6.  Covering the NBA Allstars and the China Games.  The learnings of running a big time sporting event and being part of the on cam talent pool for the international coverage is something I will never forget.

5.  Donaire/Viloria.  To know that you can mount a world class sporting event gives a lot of satisfaction from what I was a part of in Solar.

4.  Meeting NBA Superstars.  Being able to interview the likes of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and Dwayne Wade along with many other NBA players was a dream come true.  

3.  Great Team.  It was an honor to have worked with such a talented and competent group in Solar.  I have made some very good friends along the way and that is something I will always be thankful for.  From my bosses to the managers, the company is in good hands with visionaries and passionate people.

2.  BTV.  To conceptualize, launch, and implement Basketball TV was something I will always be proud of.

1.  Manny Pacquiao.  It was surreal to be right in the middle of the rise of the Pacman the last 4 years.  

There were others that deserve mention including working on the 2006 World Cup coverage in the Philippines, producing and hosting In The Zone (ITZ) and conceptualizing Sports Desk along with pioneering the Philippine Collegiate Championships (and maybe even more stuff that escapes my memory at the moment) but I decided to limit it to 10 things.

It was certainly a packed four years!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bad Boy Coach

I did spend my junior high, high school and college days in the Chicago area.  I did love watching the Bulls with MJ, Scottie, and Horace in the 80's.  I did hate the Detroit Pistons led by Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman and Chuck Daley.  They did thrive on being called the "Bad Boys" from the Motor City.  In general they weren't that athletic which prompted Daley to implement rough play as the only way to get the job done.  They orchestrated the "Jordan Rules" to specifically and physically slow down Michael Jordan.  It worked.  At least until the 90's.  The Pistons were the best team to end the 80's with two straight titles.

Chuck daily passed away this weekend and although I did not like him in Detroit, I did respect him as a coach.  I don't think his style was limited to physicality as he coached the first (and maybe only) Dream Team in 1992 which had a totally different philosophy.  You gotta give credit to coaches who identify their manpower and utilize a system custom fit for the talent he's been given.

So to one of the best coaches in basketball, Rest in Peace sir.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Just got word on some of the overnight ratings numbers for the most recent Pacquiao fight.  These telecasts never cease to amaze me because no matter how many ads are placed and however many complaints are raised, an incredible number of people still watch on GMA7.

The fight is only on pay per view everywhere in the world except in the Philippines where it is also available on Free TV but with tons of commercials.  Nobody wants to sit through ad after ad after ad, but with the amount the rights have gone up and only 5 hours or so to unload sponsorships, it is really a difficult situation.

Initial numbers indicate that the Pacman fight rated an average of 64% AMR (Average Minute Rating) garnering 87% SHR which I think is now the highest ever rated program in Philippine history.  It peaked at 68% AMR and 92% SHR.  The fights vs Larios and Delahoya also breached the 60% mark but were both a little lower than Hatton.  The other network's programming only rated about 3% AMR at the same time.  If you add the viewers on Solar (simulcast) and even the primetime airing on CS9, then almost everyone who had a TV on last May 3 practically watched the fight.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Can We Consider Pacquiao the Greatest Ever?

I have only been cognicent of boxing since the 80's so I really couldn't tell if he can be classified in the Greatest Ever category yet. But from the fighters I've seen from my generation, the Pacman is right up there with Mike Tyson, Suger Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler and yes, the great Muhammad Ali.
Of course the criteria used will make a difference but think for a moment where Manny is at this point of his career. He has won his last four fights in different divisions against champions. He has demolished the last three with the greatest of ease. He has charisma that attracts millions who idolize him and consider him a hero. Manny "retires" champion boxers. The only fighter who he has not sent into obscurity is Juan Manuel Marquez. The only that can stop Manny for boxing immortality is politics.

Is he the greatest ever? I think he's the greatest now. The greatest maybe even the last 20 years all things considered. I think if he wins a few more against future Hall of Famers like Mayweather Jr., talk of greatest ever is fair game.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pinoy Pride

The Flash and the Furious was an ambitious boxing promotion taken on by Solar Sports at the Araneta Coliseum. Since the "Thrilla in Manila" was staged in 1975, very few boxing events have met any success in Manila. It was after all, the first time we were going to have two bonafide World Titles at stake in one card.

We already had to postpone the fight mainly because of sponsor requests. Many detractors took pot shots at Solar as a company having financial difficulty because of it.

But then, it all came together. I'm thankful some sponsors took the risk (and it definitely paid off!). Even our non sponsors wanted some tickets last minute to watch the fight. The tickets sales started to pick up. The media coverage gained momentum. Most of our on ground plans to mobilize tickets sales worked. I have a feeling the ratings will also be better than expected.

And of course, the Pinoy boxers cooperated by submitting back to back to back world class performances. Denver Cuello got the WBC International Minimumweight Crown. Brian Viloria gave the performance of his life and dethroned Ulysses Solis. And Nonito Donaire, Jr. was impressive in his domination of challenger Raul Martinez.

Everything worked out. The one month postponement turned out to be the right decision. A world class event that highlights the Filipino's boxing talent was showcased at the Araneta.

Thank you to all who made it happen.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Triple Assault

If you're a Filipino boxer not named Manny Pacquiao, you would be hard pressed to get the attention you deserve in your own country let alone the rest of the world.  The Pacman has dominated the consciousness of Filipinos and boxing fans that others who are in the vicinity gets lost in overwhelmed with the exposure Manny gets.

We arguably have the three (3) best weeks of Philippine boxing ever lined up from April 19 to May 3 this year.  Four (4) World Title fights are happening (would have been 5 if Lluevano didn't injured against Concepcion) in the span of two weeks.  Donaire, Viloria, Penalosa and of course Pacquiao are all fighting for World Championships with Donaire and Viloria doing it right at the Araneta Coliseum.  

If you love boxing, then these 3 weekends are going to be heaven.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

UAAP TV Rights

It seems we (Solar) really can't avoid crossing paths with ABS-CBN when it comes to sports television broadcasts.  They are a giant network with deep pockets and vast resources who want to be a big player in the business.  It's just the way it is.

The UAAP rights are no exception.  In my opinion, 90% of all basketball sponsorship money are placed in three leagues.  The PBA, the NBA and the UAAP.  Solar beat ABS with the PBA bid last year.  ABS failed in an attempt to carve out a portion of the Solar's NBA contract the year prior after BTV was booted out of Sky Cable.  That leaves the UAAP as the third league who eats up from that sponsorship pie.

It seems that ABS-CBN will be getting another chance to bid this month after their first attempt last Feb.  Maybe they underestimated the competition (GMA and Solar submitted separate proposals) once again.  Or maybe they forgot to mention some things when they first did it.  But they are going to be given another chance to "re bid".  I don't understand why they have to bid again given that they have the right of first refusal anyway.  All they have to do is match the highest bidder.  Was the UAAP not satisfied with their bid that they are doing it again?  Are they privy to the other two bidders proposals so they can match or exceed?

No matter what happens with the TV contract, the UAAP will be the clear winner with the rights fee being much higher this time around.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Most of those involved have moved on from the most recent Pacquiao incident about TV rights.  For my part, I am certainly glad it's over as it was a huge unnecessary distraction mostly for Manny and his training but for me as well since it took a week out of selling advertising packages for the fight.  It was a stressful week to make sure the public knew the truth and was clear with Solar's position.

I am of the impression that most don't really care where the Pacman fights are televised.  The attention though I think given to the issue was mostly because of its ethical and moral implications.  Can someone really turn his back on contracts as easily as you deciding to switch cars when you want to replace the current?  Can a third party really claim they are free of any fault  just because they did not make the first move?

ABS-CBN, in my opinion was very sloppy in the way they handled the situation.  If I were going into a situation as high profile as Pacquiao's television contract agreement, I would absolutely make sure that I had a strong legal foundation to stand on.  At no time did a legal representative from Channel 2 go public because I am sure no lawyer in their right mind would want to justify and risk ridicule for defending what they did.  They ran with it based on a video and a letter that had no factual basis.  There also seemed to be a well orchestrated series of articles from one sportswriter that set the whole thing up.  But you need more than one sided articles and cowardly "unimpeachable" sources to see it through.

I also want to put into question the way Dyan Castillejo handled the situation based on Manny Pacquiao's account.  I have been a reporter for some international events including the NBA All Star Weekend and the Beijing Olympics.  The access given to us is to exclusively report on the event for our media entity.  We are specifically told that anything outside of what we're supposed to be doing would merit suspension of our privileges.  So using your access to get autographs, and making deals with athletes are out of bounds.  Ms. Castillejo used her access to broker a deal, not just report on Manny.

Manny Pacquiao has apologized.  ABS-CBN has not.  So I'm assuming the giant network does not see anything wrong with anything they did.  I am now curious to see if they will continue to cover Manny as extensively as they've done given what has transpired.  Because if the coverage suffers a significant decline, then maybe they were really just wooing our National Treasure to transfer.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lessons Learned

Manny Pacquiao after being asked what he learned from the experience of being in the middle of a controversy for his TV rights said "I am more intelligent now than I was yesterday".  Half joking but true in some ways, he really found out that he was not above the law and even our national treasure should adhere to basic ethical principals.

I was in the middle of the storm as my company, Solar Sports, who had the rights to Pacman's contract was surprised by his sudden announcement that he was rescinding the contract despite no valid reasons to do so.

After a few days worth of stress, lawyers, press conferences, and many phone calls, everything finally worked out and Manny honored his contract.

I, too am more intelligent after this experience.  As far as my lessons learned, I guess there were some...

Manny Pacquiao is one of the most unpredictable people in the world.  The Filipino people really are interested in his life and what he does.

There is no substitute for being right.  The passion and motivation to get the job done stems a lot from your belief in what you're doing.

You don't have to be educated or smart to be blinded by money and power, just human.  

You should always be prepared for all possibilities and cover all your bases.

Always be magnanimous and gracious in everything that you do.  

And my favorite.... "you can please some people all of the time, and all people some of the time, but you cannot please all people all of the time". 


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Valley of the Sun

I started this blog about a year ago after the New Orleans All Stars.  Many posts later, it's still going..... so it's been a year!

The Phoenix All Stars didn't have the normal extravagance compared to the others this decade.  In fact it had a toned down atmosphere.  Not as much merchandising within the city and hotels.  Transportation, food, and facilities were not as readily available.

The Rookie/Sophomore had its moments and the Slam Dunk contest on Saturday was pretty entertaining.  The All Star game actually had more than its share of serious moments where the players actually came to play rather than goof around.  I worked the game with Vitto Lazatin and although I've watched more entertaining games before, it was still a of fun doing the coverage.

The annual media pickup game was joined by Spurs player Roger Mason who obliged by having a nice conversation about his road to being an NBA player after being a Euroleague star.  Boris Diaw joined a few years back while Tim Hardaway played with us last year.  Spud Webb and BJ Armstrong were the other two from the last few years I've been involved as international media during the Allstars.

As with previous Allstar games, our broadcast position was once again right at courtside and beside a lot of the personalities who attended.  Seated right in front of us were Eva Longoria, Senator John McCain, and Spike Lee.  There were others whose names escape me but I do recognize them from various shows.  Beyonce was seated in the same row although on the other half of the sideline.

Overall, it was still very enjoyable for any basketball fan but if you've gone to the others from the last few years, you will notice that the league was more careful in this one as far as expenses were concerned.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

One For the Ages

In most cases, game 7's of any series does not end up delivering in the pre game hype.  It's hard to imagine how a game with so much at stake can live up to the expectations of fans of being one of the best ever.  It happened Wednesday night.

I was more than happy when my boss postponed my trip to Phoenix for some pressing matters at work which gave me the chance to cover the 7th game as the television anchor with Norman Black as the analyst, Dominic Uy, Patricia Hizon, and Ceska Litton as the courtside reporters.  (Thanks to Ceska for the pic from the production room)  It was a first for me to cover the last game of the PBA Finals and it was "awesome".

As a commentator and a fan, I really was in "awe" watching the two teams combine talent and heart on their way to a masterpiece.  Well, sans the last possession(s) of Alaska, it was as good as it gets for the PBA.  The coaching was excellent.  The officiating was consistent.  The players were at the top of their game.  The fans were cheering in full force.  No Ginebra nor Purefoods, the two most popular teams and yet still a blockbuster with ratings and attendance that made Commissioner Barrios smile from ear to ear.

Congratulations to the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Defense Wins Championships

The Finals of the KFC PBA Philippine Cup is upon us and the two best teams (if you go by the eliminations record) have made it for a best of seven (7) showdown. There are a few storylines in place for the series.

First, the coaches. Tim Cone and Chot Reyes are both former National Team Coaches. Chot was under Tim in Alaska before he achieved all his success in Purefoods, Sta. Lucia, Coke and now Talk 'N Text. Both are respected and are considered two of the best in the land today. Cone has more championships and finals' appearances but it's partly because he's also coached more years. Both are also the best of friends.

Second is the style these two teams play. Alaska is very deliberate and likes to play half court offense. TNT is very fast and likes to utilize the full court in orchestrating its offense. Alaska is one of the best defensive teams in the conference while TNT is one of the best offensively. They say defense wins championships so we'll see if that holds true in this case.

In a 7 game series, adjustment will be the key. I reckon sometimes Alaska's defense will dominate and other times TNT's offense will explode. This is why the coaching will play a larger role than normal in this matchup.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tejada Triumph

Some might remember the tragic Mother's day a couple of years ago when Eugene Tejada fell into a career ending injury at the Ynares Center in Antipolo while playing for Purefoods. Spine/Back injuries are the worst kind in sports and it was damn scary watching Eugene get carried off in a stretcher unable to move any of his body parts from the neck down.

Seeing the former PBA player walking last night during Dominic Uy's birthday party at Fiamma was one of the most encouraging sights for the new year so far. I can't imaging the amount of rehab, and hospital bills it took for him to get to the point he is at right now. I don't really know Eugene that well but I am definitely now a fan.

We are inspired mostly by great performances and incredible talent on the court. Eugene's comback is something to absolutely marvel at and admire.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Pacman Share

Reports have come out saying that Manny Pacquiao will not fight Ricky Hatton unless he gets at least 60% of the share in revenues for the May 2 fight. After all, he is the pound for pound king! The Hatton camp has threatened to file a case about the issue claiming that Bob Arum had already verbally agreed to a 50/50 on behalf of Pacman.

It seems to me that because of the potential Great Britain PPV market, a 50/50 share is very fair. Team Pacquiao needs to look at the take home, not the share. Getting 60% or even 70% of a fight that will gross less than half of the Hatton fight will give you much less than 50% of something huge. The larger share vs take home only massages the pride, not the pocket.

Another option is to have a 60/40 share for Hatton in Great Britain, then 60/40 Pacman everywhere else. But I reckon even with the 50% share, Manny will still take home his largest payday ever. "Para sa Bayan!", but the Money doesn't hurt I guess.

PBA TV Coverage Workshop

"There will always be room for improvement" was the message imparted by Bobong Velez, the former head of Vintage Enterprises who spoke earlier this week during a 3 hour workshop hosted by Solar in their main office in Makati.  It was a philosophy that propelled the PBA coverage in the late 80's and early 90's into the best sports entertainment available on television.  He praised the current coverage and encouraged everyone not to be complacent to improve even more.

Norman Black addressed the group as well as an analyst stressing the importance of credibility and making sure that commentators have to know more than the viewers.   Andy Jao touched on the duty to know the rules of the league to be able to convey them to the fans.  Ed Picson talked about the roles for the anchors and analysts during the coverage while Quinito Henson imparted how crucial it was to be prepared for a coverage.

The producers, directors, the commissioner's office, Solar managers along with the oncam talents attended.  Among the talents who attended were:  Norman Black, Paolo Trillo, Mico Halili, Magoo Marjon, Patricia Hizon, Vince Hizon, Peaches Aberin, Ed Picson, Quinito Henson, Jason Webb, Dominic Uy, Richard Del Rosario, Reema Chanco, Anthony Suntay, Ceska Litton, Vitto Lazatin, Marga Vargas, and Mica Abesamis.

For the most part, we talked about what was good with the coverage and what else needs to improve especially going into the semi finals.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An Amazing Series

Some matchups are just made in heaven.  Even if you pit two good teams against each other, if the styles don't jive, it won't be entertaining to watch.  The San Miguel vs Barangay Ginebra quarterfinal series was one of those series where both teams just matched up perfect against each other.  

All three games went down the wire and all three games were so much fun to watch.  The heart, the hustle, the talent and the drama were all included in the mix.

Here's hoping for more perfect matchups in the semis and finals so that we can continue enjoying the best in sports entertainment!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008: A Frequent Flier Year

I started this blog in 2008, a year which was one of the most fulfilling professionally. I thank everyone who was part of the journey and made it such a good year. I actually hate travelling (especially with the tighter security checks) but this past year was definitely the busiest ever as far a travel goes. I took 10 plane trips (5 International) mostly for work with a couple as vacation.

I was able to visit NEW ORLEANS for the first time during the NBA All Star weekend. It was incredible to see some of the remnants of Hurricane Katrina and was inspired by what the city has done to recover from the major tragedy. I had a minor side trip back to my hometown of CHICAGO where I was able to watch a rare Bulls victory versus the Denver Nuggets.

Then there was BEIJING for the Summer Olympics. It was without a doubt an experience I will never forget as a sports fan. To witness the redeem team play, the closing ceremonies live, and other events in track and field was amazing as a sports fan.

Another trip outside the country included SINGAPORE to join the Beermen and Tropang Texters in the first ever official PBA game there. Most of the Filipinos in the small island watched and made the trip so much fun.

There were a few other trips to MACAU, LAOAG, BATANGAS, BORACAY and CAGAYAN DE ORO which were all work related. There were also nice change of pace trips by visiting BAGUIO, BORACAY (again) and BOHOL along the way.

Despite my dislike for travel, I will just be thankful that I have the opportunity to visity all these great places mostly as part of my job. It really is a dream job for the sports fan.