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.
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.
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.
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.
I was born in the Philippines, grew up in Chicago and now back in the Philippines after graduating from college.
I am a media guy having worked extensively both in front of and behind the camera for the biggest TV Networks in the Philippines.
I currently work for the FOX International Channels handling the Philippine Territory.
The Channels I oversee include Star World, Star Movies, ESPN, Star Sports, FX, FOXCrime, Channel V, National Geographic Channel, and FOX among others.