THOUGH WE ARE two months and 10 days away ‘til Christmas, it will be three days until a new season of National Basketball Association (NBA) formally tips off – two weeks earlier than normally scheduled.
The opening salvo will be on the two warring teams from the previous season’s Finals last June: in the Western Conference, defending champion Golden State Warriors will challenge Houston Rockets and in the Eastern Conference, Cleveland Cavaliers will play Boston Celtics.
In the local broadcasting standpoint, despite the recent legal and exclusivity standoff between BTV (Solar) and S+A (ABS-CBN), both entities will still cover the league. The latter will continue to roll onto the hype machine as the former discreetly laments, ponders and questions the rival’s legal motives.
Here at home, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is currently playing on its Finals between Meralco Bolts and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel of their Governor’s Cup – the final conference of this 42nd season but some of us are hoping for the new season to come on the holiday season.
The period of the newness of both major league of hoops we loved is worth writing here in The Turf but the latter is expected to be rough and needs to be detailed here.
The leagues’ grudge match
In this section, we will not delve much further on player drafting methods and the standards of gameplay – not time or physical dimensions.
In NBA, each of the 30 teams plays 82 games for six months — that’s 1,230 games played for the regular season. Afterwards, the Playoffs phase will tip-off for six weeks until they determine the respective Conference champions to be challenged in the Finals in June with 98 maximum games. With seven games of the NBA Finals, this league will play 1,335 games at a maximum.
Obviously, the league cannot be covered in just one media entity; they have to rely on others.
All teams must reach the prior agreement before penciling the schedule; thus, the league is very rigid as player and management shifts cannot be materialized while the season is underway.
Here at home, PBA’s season is presently divided into three conferences: the Philippine, Commissioners and Governors Cup.
Unlike NBA, PBA does not play in geographic locales since inception in 1975 and hence, does not play in a home stadium; their teams are based from companies or brands, inherited from its spiritual predecessor, the Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) and are played in any stadium, mostly Smart Araneta Coliseum and the Mall of Asia Arena.
Each team (currently, 12) plays 33 elimination games (i.e. 11 challengers in three conferences) throughout the season via single-round robin format. Thus, there will be 198 in total throughout the said phase.
In the playoffs, the bracket is complicated. The top eight will advance to the quarterfinals via best of three or twice-to-beat, depending on the rank. When they advance on the Semifinals, the “best of” series – either 5 or 7 – will be in play but the Finals of any conference will always be on the best-of-seven series.
Using the current season’s format, PBA will play 285 games at maximum but the playoffs structure may vary depending on the situation (e.g. impending and committed supranational games, inclement weather, etc.).
There is a primary advantage of PBA over NBA: flexibility. They can trade players or overhaul team coaching but it might take effect on the next conference.
When it comes to the holidays, they do usually play on Christmas Day but it never imitated the American counterpart as a special (i.e. it will normally count in the standings tally for the Philippine Cup).
One common term, different definition
If there is a common term that has between NBA and PBA that the Turf can think of, it’s the concept of the “All-Star Game.” Conversely, the definition differs: in NBA, it’s played in the middle of the regular season but in PBA, traditionally in the middle of the Commissioners’ Cup conference but, again due to flexibility, it can be delayed due to impending major games such as what happened in 2016 due to the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers.
Rugged, messy path for PBA
The home-and-away qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup – Asia conference, commencing next month, will overshadow the new (43rd) season of PBA. The proposed Gilas lineup will need about at least a week’s training to compete against three nations within the Group B: Australia, Chinese Taipei, and Japan.
In light of that circumstance and the aforementioned comparison of flexibility, the new season will officially kick off on December 17 under the new and solidified ESPN5.
However, the same case will apply in February and in June to July; it will be up to the Board of Commissioners to handle the schedule of affected conferences.
Another possible interruption would have been the XXIII Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. However, Michael Christian Martinez, the sole hopeful for Team Philippines, didn’t made the cut in qualifying Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany. The chances of getting a new participant is remote; ESPN5 will face a dilemma if they will sportscast the multi-sport event or not, regardless of a representative participating or not.
Regardless of the fate of such acquisition, however, PBA will refuse to yield due to their snobby privilege just like UAAP’s preference over Premier Volleyball League (PVL) but very experienced.
That being said, nonetheless, the most important part behind this is the passion of the game of hoops that we love. Whatever the efforts of your supporting teams, we look on them forward and wish them the very best on their new season.
Swish, swish, bish.
Photos courtesy of:
- National Basketball Assocation
- International Basketball Federation (FIBA)
- Irvin Rivera/Illustrado Magazine