NCAA: FIRST ROUND INSIGHTS

I am not a basketball expert. I just love watching all the games of UAAP and NCAA on TV, but all the Red Lion Games I watch live. The main topic my family talks about on the dining table is college basketball. So I have my own sets of insights, observations, fearless forecasts.. So let me start with where my heart is, the NCAA:

1. This season’s NCAA is really lopsided. Not just because I’m a Bedan.. San Beda is really the team to beat. It might be too early to tell, but the Red Lions are in shape to sweep the eliminations. And now I begin to agree, I kind of feel the absence of the PCU Dolphins, if only for the stiff competition that they provide.

2. In the face of Sam Ekwe’s impending disqualification in the MVP race, there will be a mad scramble for the top prize this year. Ekwe continues to lead the statistical race with his consistent performance. In the Red Lion lineup, the next consistent performer is Rogemar Menor, a former NCAA juniors MVP himself. I commend Ogie for his quantum leap in terms of on-court decision making, and being able to sidestep when charging to the basket! Yahoo!

3. Of course, no one can set aside Yousif Aljamal (who incidentally joins the PBA draft this August. Good luck Jamal!) and Pong Escobal from contention. But it is difficult to rise and shine in this team, there is just too many prolific players in this lineup… Oops, my bias is starting to show.

4. In my opinion, the race for the Rookie of the Year Award is down to a three cornered fight among David Paul Marcelo and Garvo Lanete of San Beda, and Jonathan Banal of the Mapua Cardinals. These three newbies are playing like veterans, delivering performances to propel their respective teams to victory.

* On a side note, did you know that Jonathan Banal, who is former Red Lions coach Koy Banal’s eldest son, was a Bedan too? He attended grade school and his early high school years in San Beda before joining the FEU Baby Tamaraws. He was also slated to join the Red Lions this year. We all knew what happened here. But I am happy that Jonathan has found his rightful slot in the Cardinals’ rotation. A bright future indeed for this young man.

5. As the first round draws to a close, we find the Red Lions at the top of the heap at 5-0. The Letran Knights were headed to an unblemished record going into their classic battle with San Beda before being stopped by the gutsy JRU Heavy Bombers. The match on Wednesday still remains to be an interesting tiff, as it will rekindle the age old rivalry of Mendiola vs. Muralla. It will still be a day to look forward to.

6. One of the major changes that I noticed was a dip in attendance during the NCAA games. Thus, it worries me a bit that the league has lost some of its luster. It can be attributed from the undeniable dominance of the Red Lions, or the absence of the PCU Dolphins from competition. If we could recall, the UAAP had some rough sailing in the last year, when De La Salle was likewise suspended. But in the end, the 69th staging of the UAAP ended up as a rousing success, thanks to the epic of a finale between UST and Ateneo.

7. I see also that advertisers have pulled out of the NCAA coverage. No more of Converse’s plugs for every block. The Accenture High Performance is awarded at the end of the game in the NCAA. In the UAAP, it’s every quarter! The production staff of the NCAA has stopped producing primers before every game. No more bigscreen during games?? Now, they want to move back to the Ninoy Aquino Stadium because the NCAA can not keep up with the rent at the Arena?? The San Beda- Letran game was originally scheduled to be played at Araneta, is now back to the Arena. Maybe the NCAA no longer trusts these two schools to fill up the rafters at the Big Dome? Small time…

Backward thinking leads nobody nowhere. The NCAA, together with Studio 23, must think of ways to market their coverage. Well, I have absolutely no business sense. But it is depressing to see the NCAA down in the dumps, when my team is just blowing away the competition. Really unfair..

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