PSL hits home

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco - The Philippine Star

The Pilipinas Super League is gaining momentum, winning more and more fans now that it has found a regular venue. In its first two months, the PSL played President’s Cup games in at least seven different sites. Now, it has a home court. On Jan. 16, 18, 20 and 22, the league plays its triple-headers at its new home, the Fil-Oil EcoOil Center (aka San Juan Arena). Then, the President’ Cup goes out of town for only the second time this season, bringing the action to the Alonte Arena in Biñan, Laguna on Jan. 23 and 25, before going back to San Juan.

The games are getting more and more thrilling, as teams position themselves for a playoff run.  Thursday, primetime match-up between the MisOr Mustangs Awesam Smile and Demigods went into double-overtime. The succeeding game saw the Pureblends CV Siniloan Daruma Dragons claw back from a huge deficit to almost steal the game from the Novaliches QC Warriors. Saturday’s triple-header at the Caloocan Sports Complex brought even more surprises. The CV Siniloan Daruma Dragons played an exciting nip and tuck game with the Cam Norte Warriors in a match decided in the last minute. But in the last game of the night, a raucous, capacity crowd thunderously applauded as the home team Caloocan Supremos scored a huge upset over the previously-undefeated San Juan Kings Go for Gold. The game was tight throughout, and capped the night well.

What is the PSL’s major currency? Basically, the league is combining the fire of new, young players, giving exposure to unheralded underdogs, and giving cameo and supporting roles to players who have already made names for themselves as professionals for years. College varsity players get to play through a Special Guest License (SGL) from the Games and Amusements Board. On Saturday, Strong Group Athletics – Blazers made their successful debut, further underscoring how Pilipinas Super League has democratized the sport. SGA, playing without head coach Charles Tiu, who is preparing another unit for the Dubai International, wore down an undermanned the Alpha Omega Kings Jikiri Indanan Sulu to notch their first win.

In the PSL, basketball has become an intergenerational game, appealing to parents and their kids. Familiar players and newcomers come together to bring different levels of game and thrill to the crowds. It has gradually grown in just the last two months. And with a more permanent home, crowds are sure to keep growing.

The 19 teams are playing a single-round robin. After which the top 16 will advance to the college-style playoffs. The top eight teams will receive a twice-to-beat advantage over the lower eight teams. The eight winners of these pairings go on to a similar format, but this time, home and away. If you lose a game in the regular season, there are no rematches, unless you cross paths again in the post-season. All this makes for a new mix that is captivating fans. The PSL is also currently the only pro leagues on free TV, airing two games from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday over IBC-13.

* * *

After a 10-year hiatus, the Filipino Indian Basketball League or FIBL is making a comeback. Commissioner Dilip Budhrani made the announcement over the weekend. Previously, the league featured four teams that played on weekends at the Makati Coliseum. What was unique about the FIBL was that the top 20 players – the starting units of each team – would be redrafted each year to balance out competition, This also prevented any unnecessary physicality, since you never knew if your opponent would be a teammate that following season.  Application forms for teams wishing to enter will be available soon.

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