Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NBA Asia Challenge

Ok, so this blog has ceased to get updated on a regular basis. But just had to post some pictures for documentation purposes as I did have a good time talking shop with some NBA and PBA Legends this past week.
One thing really became obvious to me this week was that Alan Caidic is the best Filipino shooter ever and perhaps one of the top ten in the history of basketball. He really is that good. I first saw him in UE and nobody really comes close to his shooting ability. He proved it again during the Asia Challenge.

Friday, May 14, 2010

New York State of Mind?

I can't say I feel bad for Lebron James for falling short again of winning an NBA Championship despite having the best record during the regular season. It almost felt like he expected today's game to be his last this season. There was no yelling at teammates, emotional outbursts, and even an outpouring of emotion from the debacle. At least not that I saw while watching on TV.

I'm not the type of person who believes in karma but every once in awhile I think there might be some truth to it. I was in Macau 4 years ago when the Orlando Magic played the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Venetian. As part of a media contingent, we did have access to some players and some functions during while the teams were there.

One thing that stood out in my mind was how aloof Lebron was and how he was untouchable to anyone outside of his own entourage. Here's a guy who's never proven anything (and still hasn't) in his professional career acting like the God that he probably thought he was because he was being treated like it by everyone around him. We were all able to talk to all the players including Dwight Howard who was uncredibly accomodating along with NBA commissioner Stern. During official functions, Lebron would always just drop by for 10 minutes, surrounded by 4-5 bodyguards, and not talk to anyone outside his teammates or the commisioner's office. So it was difficult to even steal a photo as one of the bodygards covered every angle to get close to the King. After all, he was the main attraction, the guy all of us wanted to see, King James of the Cavs.

I thought to myself, this guy if he doesn't start to appreciate how good he has it, will not become one of the all time greats. Ok, maybe I'm being too hard on LBJ and he's still young enough to realize that having his current attitude of entitlement will not get him to the top of the mountain, nomatter what title is bestowed on him. Or maybe he can't help it since everyone around him treats him like he doesn't have to work for anything anyway. Whatever the reason, the deep down fire and desire is not there to win right now and he better find a way to get it if he wants to be more than a Dominique Wilkins who was known for athletic ability and that's about it. He definitely doesn't want to take over the title "best player never to win a championship".

Lebron is the most talented player in the league. Heck maybe of all time. If he ever finds the heart, the respect for the game and the fans, and the overall gratitude, maybe he can enter the same realm as Michael, Magic, Larry and Kobe, the true modern day basketball greats.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Is Mayweather a PR Genius?

Mayweather put on an awesome technical display of boxing yesterday as he dismantled Sugar Shane Mosley to remain undefeated in his professional career. But outside of the boxing purists who enjoyed every single second of the technical display, everyone else probably was bored to death watching the fight.

I liken it to the San Antonio Spurs led by Tim Duncan who won championships without any flare or excitement compared to Magic's showtime and the Jordan/Pippen show. Same result, just a difference in how it was done.

But when all is said and done, yesterday's hyped fight probably exceeded the 1M PPV mark at $65 a pop along with over $11M in gate receipts. I doubt many of those who watched felt they got their money's worth. I'm glad I didn't pay to watch the fight. But even if we all knew that Floyd isn't really an exciting fighter, we all still wait in anticipation curious what will happen.

It's because of what Money Mayweather does and says in between fights. He knows how to push the right buttons, to excite, piss off, and get every interested in his uninterestng style. I think he is a genius at getting people to pay attention. Over the top statements and unexpected moves keep people guessing and really glued to what he does.

So whether the Pacman/Mayweather fight happens (and it probably will), Floyd Mayweather will figure out how to keep people interested in Floyd Mayweather.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Movement to Make a Difference

We at the National Geographic Channel had been planning the run since the regional directive of doing something for Earth Day. We needed to start a movement. We needed to raise awareness on what each of us can do for climate change. We needed people to start caring more for our planet.

It is so heartwarming and very refreshing to have achieved all we set out to do this morning. The sea of humanity wearing the same shirt whether black (for 10K) or grey (3K and 5K) along with green bandanas was just an awesome sight to see. You get inspired thinking and planning on how to move people and get them to care. To see it happening in front of our eyes gave me goosebumps. This is why I signed up to work for the National Geographic Channel. We made a statement to the world that we do care and are willing to sacrifice (waking up at 4am plus donating P500-P700 is a good start for sacrifice). We had to print extra shirts to meet the demand.

We got thousands of pictures of the runners hodling a cardboard pledge to do what they can to help battle climate change in the NatGeo village after the run. It certainly is a great sign for a movement to get people to care more. We will post all these pictures to inspire thousands of others. All of us have different capacities to impact climate change. Some are in a position to impact thousands or even millions. Others, just themselves or their household. Whatever it is, the important thing is that all of us does our part.

I hope if you ran, the experience was good for you and you felt the unity and inspiration. We will follow through with the Design Against the Elements project and make sure we build that first third world disaster resilient community. For all who weren't able to make it, making a difference is a lifelong process and I hope you get to be part of the next one.

Let's not wait for the next disaster to start making a difference, it just takes too much resources and effort. Let's do what we can now. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Monday, March 29, 2010

NatGeo Island Sweep

Most people go to Boracay for rest, relaxation and of course to party the night away. So it was refreshing to see the number of volunteers who showed up when we organized a beach cleanup event to raise awareness on the need to sweep our most popular beach.

Many groups have organized beach cleanups before and this one is no different. I guess the main difference is that we were able to get many groups together to really have a show of force and make a statement. There had never been a cleanup in Boracay this scale before. Different groups were able to do it but no more than 100 people at a time.

So you can imagine the inspiration generated when over 400 people showed up to volunteer to clean the Island. From tourists, the locals, foreigners and Filipinos, everyone had so much enthusiasm and energy on a Sunday after all the parties were done.

So three straight days of events for the FOX International Channels. Thank you to all who attended and made it happen.

FOX Votes Earth

Last Saturday, March 27 at 8:30pm to 9:30pm, billions across the globe participated in a high profile statement about Climate Change. "Vote Earth" was the campaign and with an idea that started 3 years ago, Earth Hour was again implemented where everyone was encouraged to shut down the use of energy and electricity for one hour.

It just so happened that we were having an event in Summerplace in Boracay Island so we decided to be part of it and shut down the lights. We had a great event the night before and were getting ready for another on the 27th. I guess this post is really just as a "feel good" statement since it really will take a lot more that a 1 hour shutdown to save our planet but every little bit counts.

Before the party started, we turned off all the lights at 8:30 (actually most other establishments weren't able to), had a prayer for mother earth, then started lighting bio-degradable lanters that was released into the Boracay sky one by one. I think many noticed the lights out and really walked on over to participate as well. Tribu Manila started their cool set after the lights were back on at 9:30pm.

So we can at least say that Boracay was part of Earth Hour.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

TV5 Para Sayo Kapatid

Although we do have quite a number of Free to Air channels right now in the Philippines, there is practically a duopoly as far as viewership is concerned. ABS-CBN and GMA corner about 3/4 of eyeballs when it comes to watching television, and they pretty much get the same share of TV Advertising Sales.

Last night was a re-launch of TV5 after Mediaquest, the media subsidiary of PLDT bought the station late last year. A Malaysian group had actually re-launched the channel less than 2 years prior renaming it from it's original identity "ABC5". After mild success in ratings wasn't converted into revenue, the Malaysians pulled out and a new dynamic group from the telecoms giant has stepped in. There has been buzz about the aggressiveness of the new TV5 so I wanted to get a glimpse of what they had to offer. A new logo, a cool station ID, a commitment to upgrading facilities, and solid shows for the masses was what they unveiled.
The new direction looks promising. Although they do have their work cut out for them, it is very refreshing to have a third player who seems to have a legitimate shot at becomming a challenger in the network wars. There were times when I did feel like I was watching a noontime variety show but I guess they really had to make the point that formidable personalities are on board ready to challenge for the top. Dolphy, Maricel Soriano, Ruffa Gutierrez, JC De Vera, Vic Soto, and Joey De Leon were just some of the heavyweights who performed last night. Paolo Bediones and Ryan Agoncillo hosted the affair which seemed to last over 3 hours.

The most impressive part for me was the fact that it seems there is finally a commitment for a major upgrade in infrastructure. This I think has been overlooked by all who want to be a major player. All the other channels try to do it by content only and not take care of the reach and distribution of the signal. With the resources of Smart/PLDT, it is actually believable that it might happen in this case.

I was a little dissapointed that the initial plans don't include sports but I guess you can't do it all at once. So good luck Sayo Kapatid, I hope your entry into the big leagues benefits the Filipino TV viewer in general.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"The Event" Uneventful

I'm not sure what's more embarrassing, running/defending just so you won't get hit or fighting your ass off but getting knocked out swinging. Today's fight between Pacquiao and Clottey didn't really get me as excited as the Pacman's previous fights but I was still curious as to how it was gonna go down as Joshua had never been knocked out. As far as PPV is concerned, Clottey never really had a big following (like Delhoya with Americans, Hatton with Brits, and Cotto with Puerto Ricans) even with his home country.
Clottey, scared that Pacman's quickness will overwhelm him, chose to cover up all 12 rounds to minimize any damage. Of course, if your arms are defending your face, they cannot be out punching so he had no chance to score any significant points. The Pacman won easily.

To be honest, I was really frustrated after the 3rd round and the fight bored me to death. At first, I really thought the African was just feeling out how strong Manny's punches were in the beginning, then attack after he was able to determine that he can take it. But then, he did the exact same thing in the next 9 rounds! Even with his coach telling him "you're losing every round" "you gotta let your hands go".

In the post fight interview, he said he was never hurt and that he could take Manny's punches. If that's the case, then he just cheated all of us fans out of a good fight. "The Event" as it was hyped certainly did not live up to its billing. We say these guys are warriors and train and risk their lives in the ring. There was only one warrior in the ring today and it wasn't Joshua Clottey. Their "risk' is rewarded with millions of dollars. Can't you at least take a chance instead of playing it safe and taking home your million dollar paycheck?

There's an old saying that goes "No Guts, No Glory". Now we know why Joshua Clottey has never tasted true glory. The irony of it all is that he came into the fight nicknamed "The Hitter".

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Inspiring People to Care About the Planet

When I was studying my undergrad at Northwestern, I subscribed to two magazines. One was Sports Illustrated, the other, National Geographic (NatGeo). Working for Solar was such a perfect fit since I loved sports so much. Now working for FOX in the PH, the passion is just as strong because of the National Geographic Channel (NGC). All of us try to find fulfilment somehow in everything we do. To make a difference. To inspire people. To do good.
On Sunday, April 18 starting at 5am, NatGeo will be putting together a running event at the Mall of Asia to raise awareness for Earth Day, more specifically Climate Change. I think people's consciousness have been awakened somehow with typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) affecting the lives of millions, including those you had to give their time, money and resources to help others. The "Earth Day Run" will support the project "Design Against the Elements" DAtE, a project headed by Illac Diaz to bring innovative solutions to vulnerable communities in developing countries. It was launched last Friday in Malacanang as a long term plan to be more prepared against Climate Change. It was my third time in Malacanang, the first two being because of sports, but this one will hopefully have a lasting impact for our country's future.

Why DAtE? Because it takes so much money and effort to react to floods and typhoons while it will continue to happen beyond our control. Let's focus our money and efforts in preparing everyone so that we won't have to keep on spending all that money and effort every time an "Ondoy" happens. Let's enable communities to fight without having to be displaced and continuously get aid.

I do hope and pray many many thousands join the April 18 run at the Mall of Asia. The registration fee will go towards creating awareness for Climate Change and supporting the DAtE project. Registration starts March 8.

To know more about DAtE, log on to http://www.designagainsttheelements.org/.

For more details and to sign up for the run visit the Nike outlet in High Street, and the Timex outlets in MOA and SM North EDSA or visit http://www.natgeorun.com/. The registration fee/donation includes a very nice technical shirt from NatGeo in the race kit.

So let's go beyond being aware, let's make a difference and be accountable. Let's help build sustainable communities to fight against Climate Change. Let's run for Earth Day Awareness and continue on the road to a better future for everyone. Let's show the world how much we care. Join the thousands who will wake up early run (or walk) and be heard. A little sacrifice will Inspire People to Care About the Planet.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

King James (Yap) Rules

I gotta admit, when I first had a conversation with Coach Ryan Gregorio about Purefoods drafting James Yap many years ago, I was a bit skeptical. Yes, James won the UAAP MVP and was the best shooter out of college, but I had my doubts about his leadership and ability to win championships. Even when he was voted best player in the UAAP, he never won the title. So when Coach Ryan told me that James is the best player in the draft, I thought he was in one of his hyperbolic raves again. I worked with him in the UAAP panel and a little in the PBA and he did have a tendency to get over excited about basketball, which I think is great.

I also remember a good friend Luigi Trillo who was coaching the Adamson Falcons at the time telling me about this kid he was hoping to recruit for the Falcons to get him over the hump. James went on to have a fruitful UAAP career but not with Adamson. His best shot at winning was in 2002, teamed up with Paul Artadi and a bunch of other solid players but eventually lost to Ateneo off a last second shot by Gec Chia.

James has proven Coach Ryan right on a number of occassions already in the course of his Purefoods career. James is hands down the most popular player in the PBA now especially since marrying Kris Aquino, one of the most popular personalities in the country with all the controversies that come with it. With winning the Finals MVP, he is no doubt the King of the PBA right now.

Last night, after getting to watch the Game 4 sweep live (for the first time in a long time), I got reminded again why Coach Ryan was right and what makes James a great player: Mainly his demeanor. A smooth operator, he doesn't get too excited or too down. He is like a well oiled machine built to play on the court and get the job done. He is the best offensive player in the PBA right now and it seems his defense is catching up as well. You can tell that although he doesn't talk much, his teammates rely on him to lead them and James embraces the responsibility. James is a player who has the fans holding their breath in anticipation whenever he has the ball. Very few have that ability.

San Miguel and Alaska were hands down the favorites to win the title. Purefoods just got on an incredible roll and couldn't be stopped with James Yap at the driver's seat. My doubts are all gone. He has the leadership and he knows how to win championships. I'm happy to be proven wrong.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Nonito Sr. vs Nonito Jr.

The YouTube video above is the very dramatic response of Nonito Donaire, Jr. to his father's accusations regarding their estranged relationship.

Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire, Jr. is the next best thing in Philippine boxing after Manny Pacquiao. He has really been very unlucky after winning the title against Vic Darchinyan. He's had fights cancelled, postponed, fighters switched last minute, and even changed trainers in his title defenses. All throughout, the "Filipino Flash" has been very professional and just gone about his business and defended the Filipino's honor.

It has been an honor to know Nonito (Jun) and spend some time with him the past couple of years. I first met him with his dad, Nonito Sr. along with his then manager Gary Shaw during their first visit to Manila after winning the title. Jr. and Sr. seemed very tight at the time.

Last year, I was sad to find out that the relationship between Jun and his dad has deteriorated mainly because of Rachel Marcial Donaire, Jun's wife. I also know Rachel, and she is a tough, strong minded person. It is obvious that Nonito and her love each other very much. I can see how some can misunderstand her but I certainly think all she wants is the best for her husband. I've met Rachel's family as well and the champion couple has even been to my place during a Christmas Party a couple of years ago. We've been to a couple of parties together and we spent some time in Boracay last year as we all had a great time.

Last week, Nonito Sr. spoke out in public about his relationship with his son. He seems to have a deep seeded animosity toward Rachel and her family. Accusations about greed, control, and alienating the Donaire family from the current life of Jun. I really am not close enough to really know the real story or even details but I do know that it's tough not being in good terms with your dad. Here's the link to Nonito Sr.'s statements:


I don't know if this will ever get resolved but I do know that this must be eating up both Nonito's alive. Imagine not being able to share your success with your father who was with you from the beginning. I can't imagine having to sit on the sidelines while you watch your son rise to the top and become a glorious champion.

Maybe someday, we can witness a happy ending to this saga and even make a nice feel good movie about it eventually. Nonito Jr. is too good a person not to deserve both a championship belt and a good relationship with his dad.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

FOX Asia Now in PH

Just a quick video on the new channel now on test broadcast on Sky Cable Ch 50. It will be availabe in other cable providers in a couple of months.

It still has some work to do as far as the content is concerned but it will slowly but surely get stronger in the coming months.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Foul or No Foul?

Just a quick entry on last night's game 2 Finals win by Purefoods vs Alaska. I was not able to watch the game since I had to attend the Anvil Awards for a PR award of merit for the National Geographic Channel but was getting SMS messages left and right about the last play. There was a controversial call at the end where Kerby Raymundo was given a couple of free throws (to win the game) from a questionable shooting foul by Joe Devance.

Now if you were to follow the rules and guidelines, it seems since there was slight contact, there was a foul on JD. But again, given the context of the situation, the magnitude of what was at stake and how the calls have gone the whole game, you can argue that it should NOT have been called a foul.

Coach Tim Cone and his staff can probably go to the commissioner and show dozens of other instances during the same game where more contact was made and yet no whistle was blown. Then on the last and most crucial play, the whistle blows on a touch foul at best?

Alaska will move on and and teams have come back from 0-2 before but it will take a lot of heart to get over the disheartened feeling of not getting a fair shake. So here we go again... consistency. It's what drives coaches and players crazy. That foul would most likely been acceptable if the referees were calling it that thin the whole game.

I guess at the end of the day you can also argue that it was Alaska's fault for not putting the game away the many instances it had in the 4th quarter. But hey, nobody will remember any of those previous missed free throws and turnovers. Just that last crucial blimp of inconsistency that has been magnified made the PBA look bad again.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How do we Fix the Slam Dunk Contest?

First off, the main problem with the Dunk Contest right now is that the big names don't participate anymore. Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, Larry Nance, Dominique Wilkins, and Dwight Howard were all A-listers in the NBA when they won. Nate Robinson? De Rozen? Shannen Brown? huh? Can we get some starters please? Even Jason Richardson, JR Rider and Spud Webb had significant playing time when they participated. The other competitions have the A-listers there. Nash, Williams, Pierce, and Billups. Best player in the dunk contest was Gerald Wallace. It's the main event of All Star Saturday. Surely the NBA can do better. Lebron? Durant? JSmith? Wade? There is a decent list of possible A-listers.

Next it seems most of what can be done without having to toss a ball, or with the help of a teamate or props has already been done. You can only do so much in the few seconds of hangtime you have before the slam. So players will really have to start thinking through their dunks with a little creativity and showmanship. Dwight's "Superman" routine was a blast. Nate using former champ Spud Webb from the crowd was awesome. Amare using Steve Nash's soccer abilities was cool. Jordan clearing the runway for his free throw dunk. There are lotsa ways to get creative. Nate actually could've done something with the Cowboys Cheerleaders since they were already there. So it seems to me, dunks really have to be practiced from now on. We can't have the "I just do it and let creativity take over once in the air" dunks. We've seen 'em all.

I don't know the solution to the third point but the judging has to be more exciting. Yeah the personalities are there but maybe we can have an American Idol type setup where the judges actually tell the contestants how crappy or great their dunks were. Maybe some pointers as well to save the fans for further boredome so the dunkers will know what to try next.
I'm sure there are other improvement ideas out there but it'll definitely be more interesting if any of the aforementioned 3 suggestions are implemented.

PBA Share

This weekend was a good example of the challenges the PBA faces as far as popularity, attendance and viewership is concerned. While many have been quick to declare the demise of the league the past decade, I think it has held up pretty well under the circumstances. After the TNT walkout controversy, it seems the buzz went down a notch despite the most popular teams being in the final 4. Heck, there seems to be more interest right now on the email and verbal exchange (initiated by Jaermark Tordecilla through his blog firequinito.com) between Jamal Sampson and the SBP program than the blowouts of the first few games of the semis.

As far as sports tv viewing is concerned, there was the NBA All Star Weekend and the Vancouver Winter Olympics opening to compete with this V Day weekend. These two big events would not have been shown live a couple of decades ago on TV. Add to that the Pinoy Power Boxing card by Top Rank and ABS-CBN and the Asian Basketball League (ABL) playoffs on TV5 and ESPN and it's really difficult to place the PBA above the trees in a dense sports forrest. Then there's all the other non sports activities and television programs available to the public now, then it's really a much tougher market for Asia's first pay for play league. More sports channels, more entertainment channels, more movie channels, more channels in general. What about the Hot Air Baloon festival in Clark? The Pyrolympics in MOA? More concerts now seem to be staged. All the nice Malls and hangout places around that didn't exist back then? So much other stuff to spend money and time on.

That being said, I think the league has done well despite the much tougher competition. I do think they should focus on marketing a lot more as their competition continues to step it up as well. The league needs to find the followers beyond the die hards who will watch no matter what. Can't keep on depending on Ginebra winning, or teams walking out.

So as I channel surf, the PBA still gets a share of surfing destination but a lot of other stuff is driving down the share that it currently has. After all that's said and done, the PBA as a whole is still the most watched sporting league in the Philippines.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thoughts on the TNT Walkout

Ok, so the new job has kept me from writing much about sports in the last many months. But the latest walkout of the Talk 'N Text team kinda gave me some motivation to at least put some thoughts on paper (or the web).

First off, I was part of the Mancom of the PBA Commissioner's Office for over a year when Noli Eala was running the show. It still is currently the usual suspects except that Sonny Barrios is now at the helm.

One thing that I remember from my Commissioner's Office experience is the frustration of trying to appease the team members in league related matters. The majority of the complaints was about officiating but it extended into marketing, hotel accomodations for out of town games, tv exposure, commentator's bias, and others.

The walkout was certainly not the first time Talk 'N Text has cried foul claiming unfairness. Throughout the whole Asi Taulava ordeal about his citizenship, TNT Management always felt that Noli was unfair with dissallowing their big man to play because of him not having the proper documentation. They even had the PNP ready to arrest the commissioner at one point with cops at the Araneta if he didn't allow Asi to play. They've protested the location of their bands, extent of cheering on court of their cheerleaders and other non basketball related matters which had guidelines from the start. I do admire the passion of their management to fight for their rights albeit sometimes misguided.

I know Chot Reyes to be an excellent coach. He is probably one of the best communicators practicing the profession. He got my vote when choosing a National Coach during my stint in the Commissioner's Office. But I do disagree with his (and TNT management's) decision to walk out of game 4 of the recently concluded quarterfinals series (won by Ginebra). I am not the aggrieved party so I can't fully understand the emotion involved as the pressure to win was very high. But my greivance is on the side of the fans. The games and its fans are the heart and soul of the league. The walkout deprived the fans of the games. Period. The games should always be sacred. It is after all, just a game. We talk of the fans being the lifeblood of the league and in this case it's absolutely true.

Now, complaints about officiating and unfairness abound. But I also know how hard the referees work at their craft. I've sat through some of their training and workshops. I don't know of any league where the players and coaches are 100 percent satisfied with the officiating. Referees make mistakes just as players and coaches do.

I guess I just needed to write about it since it was really a sad day in Philippine basketball when the walkout happened. Yeah, statistics were cited and maybe a few bad calls here and there. But that shouldn't even be close to merit any kind of walkout from any team. Why? Because everyone from the commissioner's office, to the coaches, to the owners, to the ballboys, to the players all do it for the fans. Anything that would deprive the fans of the games should be taken out of the equation. I'm pretty sure there was no public sympaty or empathy for that matter with the walkout because it was not only the commissioner's office who had to deal with it but the fans themselves.

This issue was between the TNT team and the PBA technical crew, so please leave the fans out of it.