The PCCL mystery

BLEACHER TALK - Rico S. Navarro (The Freeman) - December 19, 2015 - 9:00am

It was once called the Champions’ League. It later became known as the PCCL, for Philippine Collegiate Champions League. Today, it’s now the National Collegiate Championships or NCC, with the tag, “There can only be one.” But the big question these days for the NCC is “What in the world is going on?” Is it a true blue season-ending league of champions? Is it a genuine tournament that determines one true national collegiate champion? Don’t get me wrong, the goals of the league are both noble and noteworthy. After all, don’t basketball fans want to find out which college team is the best in the country?

The bad news is that 2015 hasn’t been kind to the NCC. For the first time in history, there will be two co-champions: Far Eastern University and San Beda College. This was the decision made by the PCCL Board when typhoon Nona wiped out one day of games, forcing the semifinals to be final games played with the winners here being declared as co-champions. The league released this statement to the public, “The PCCL board has decided to shorten the NCC competitions in consideration of safety and convenience of students and players. Therefore, the winners of today’s games will be declared as co-champions of 2015 National Collegiate Championship and shall share the prize awards due them.” My first reaction? This is a very shallow and weak statement. How did cutting the tournament short contribute to the safety and convenience of the students and players? It simply doesn't make sense, does it? No venues kuno? ABS-CBN wasn’t available? It looks more like they weren’t willing to accept the extra load and expenses. The irony of it all is they could’ve played the semifinals on Thursday morning and the finals in the afternoon. It may not be the most ideal situation, but was a win-win answer given the circumstances.

But the big issue today is the PCCL’s effort to make the tournament hit its real goals. It looks like it’s failing in this regard. The signs were imminent and somehow foretelling? The UV bus conks out and the team has to push the bus along the major highway. That picture of the UV team pushing their bus could be a reflection of the way the NCC is being managed these days. Other telltale signs that things aren’t looking good? The UAAP and NCAA did not send their strongest teams to the NCC. Instead, they sent teams that are now preparing for next year’s 2016 season. We don’t want to take anything away from USC’s wins, but I’m certain that the Warriors would’ve preferred to have beaten the 2015 editions of NU, UST and FEU. For the UAAP and NCAA teams, the UAAP and NCAA championships are already the highest targets to achieve. Anything else is considered “minor.” Thus, the PCCL (or is it NCC or Champions’s League - liboga sad ana uy) has now become just one of a series of tournaments to prepare for the 2016 season. To them, the NCC is not the Super Bowl of college basketball.                           It ranks up there with all those off-season tournaments being used by teams to prepare for the UAAP and NCAA tournaments. The sad part is that the PROMDI teams treat the NCC as the biggest tournament of the season. We’re thus seeing a treatment by teams which aren’t aligned at all. The result is that we have a watered down version of the NCC. Is this what the tournament’s managers wanted to achieve? To be treated like a minor league by the champions of the UAAP and NCAA?

It sure looks like the team will have to go back to the drawing boards. And this includes achieving an alignment of thinking among all the stakeholders of college basketball. If the NCC continues to be a minor league in the eyes of some, the league will die a natural death in the same way that the National Inter-Collegiate Tournament of the past faded away. There’s a need to make the NCC a must-win and must-join tournament as far as the UAAP and NCAA teams are concerned. Even if they their top teams will surely be shoo-ins to win the tournament, it should be treated like another UAAP or NCAA playoff game. The collegiate scene in the U.S. is run this way. The various league champions gather to play in the NCAA playoffs which determines one true champion coming from the current season’s team (not next year’s team).

My hope is for the NCC to lick its wounds, assess their situation and go back to square one. If they don’t, I wouldn’t be surprised if another group comes out to launch another national collegiate championship set-up that will attempt to do what the NCC is missing now. Good luck to college basketball.

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