Different public reactions to 2 collegiate basketball championships
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-10-21
There is no denying that the UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) and the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) are the two top collegiate basketball leagues in the country. Both these leagues boast of a fabled past that is now maintained as a tradition by the alumni and current students of the competing schools.

With the championship victory of the San Beda Red Lions in the NCAA last Friday and that of the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP several weeks earlier — the collegiate basketball season came to a close. However, there is a noticeable difference with the way the San Beda and Ateneo championship feats were celebrated by the basketball “consumers” of the country.

The Ateneo championship victory was greatly applauded and admired while the San Beda championship was regarded as if it was a fait accompli. It is true that the Ateneo championship victory in the UAAP Seniors Division Finals was easy to admire because the Ateneo Blue Eagles were considered the underdogs versus the FEU (Far Eastern University) Tamaraws. In the NCAA, the San Beda Red Lions were considered the overwhelming favorites owing to their imported players.

Ateneo rose to the occasion while their FEU rivals in the UAAP Finals played way below par. The first game of the Ateneo-FEU Finals was severely criticized by my good friend Recah Trinidad in his column for the way FEU appeared not to want to win the game. Recah compared the FEU first game to a boxer that stayed on the ropes from the starting bell up to the last round.

How can a basketball aficionado not lambasted FEU for its UAAP Finals performance when it had the big advantage of retaining the most number of veteran players compared to the rest of its competitors? Experts considered FEU superior to Ateneo in all departments of the game — guard, forward and center positions. FEU had the taller players and more reliable three-point shooters. FEU had defeated Ateneo during the first and second rounds of the tournament.

The FEU edge allowed the Ateneo Blue Eagles to win with an aura of a Cinderella finish to their championship story. As we know in life, Cinderella stories are always popular. To be accurate, Ateneo did not really have a Cinderella team because they had a team with championship experience.

On the NCAA side of things, the San Beda Red Lions did not receive as much accolade after winning their title. That’s because San Beda was expected to win the NCAA title. The excitement would have been there if their rivals won the title instead. That’s because of the tremendous odds the San Beda Red Lions enjoyed over their NCAA Finals competitor.

A former financial supporter of the San Sebastian Stags, San Beda’s rivals in the NCAA Finals, conceded the championship even before the first NCAA Finals game was played. He blamed the number of imported players the Red Lions had recruited for the tremendous San Beda edge. Just as he predicted, San Beda won both games 1 and 2 with comfortable margins.
In our September 2 “How the UAAP and NCAA cage wars reflect our hypocrisy” column, this issue of importing foreign players was discussed. Both the UAAP and the NCAA would do well to seriously review this policy. We’ve heard that more teams, especially in the UAAP, are poised to recruit foreign players.

The UAAP and the NCAA should study the lukewarm reception of the recent San Beda victory. This could well be an indication of a potential loss of league following. The real fun in these interscholastic tournaments lies in seeing your home grown team beat the other home grown team.

The peak of NCAA popularity was during the days of Caloy Loyzaga followed by the era of Ed Ocampo, Kurt Bachmann et al. They had no imports then. The best years of the UAAP were also import-less tournaments. It is illusory for the UAAP and the NCAA to think that their most avid fans will empathize with these Afrikaners and other imports just because they don the school uniform.

There is also doubt if these imports help improve Philippine basketball. How can they help us improve when they only manage to take the place of a Filipino player? You cannot hope to develop our basketball players when what you’re doing is to deprive them of the opportunity to play. Playing foreign teams could be beneficial but not when we recruit a foreigner to displace a Filipino in the team roster.

Can an Atenean, La Sallian, Letranite et al really enjoy a UAAP tournament or an NCAA tournament when the outcome is now going to be decided by imported players? Do the Bedans really see the Bedan tradition in Sudan Daniels?

In the 1980s, Danding Cojuangco brought three American players into the national team. They were good and we won some competitions because of their inclusion. Do you know of Filipinos who remember those years with fondness — in the same way Filipino basketball aficionados still regale the young generation with tales of the great Caloy Loyzaga and Sonny Jaworski eras in Philippine basketball?

Can’t we Filipinos really compete if we follow the rules? How can we prosper as a nation if our people think like that?

* * *

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo