Friday, December 25, 2020

Smart, FIBA formalize four-year global partnership


New collab.

As announced, Smart Communications, Inc. confirmed its global partnership with FIBA for the next four years.

The partnership sees FIBA grant exclusive rights to SMART for the telecommunications worldwide. It also enables key commercial rights across all FIBA competitions, including the upcoming Qualifying Tournaments for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the various Continental Cups and Youth Cups, as well as the two biggest national team competitions in the FIBA World Cup for women in 2022 and the men in 2023.

Speaking of the FIBA World Cup, which the Philippines is co-hosting alongside Japan and Indonesia from August 25 to September 10, SMART is looking to tap into its experience using 5G technology it first utilized during the Philippine Basketball Association's All-Filipino Cup that took place at the bubble inside Clark.

The aforementioned bubbled showcased TV cameras equipped with 5G to help capture the on-court action efficiently. A 94-foot-wide LED screen beside the court allows the players to see spectators, which has been temporarily not allowed to be present in-person due to the pandemic. Smart has also pioneered the use of wireless 360 cameras powered by 5G in the PBA bubble.

Both FIBA and SMART are expected to work together to create a wide array of exciting experiences both athletes and fans can partake worldwide in the run-up as well as in the competition proper.

SMART will also support FIBA's latest campaign, the "Don't Miss A Beat Challenge." Athletes from Gilas Pilipinas, as well as from recent PBA AFC finalists TNT Tropang Giga, the NLEX Road Warriors, NCAA Season 95 runners-up San Beda, and UAAP Season 82 champions Ateneo de Manila University will participate in the challenge, with celebrities also getting involved.

PLDT Chairman and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Chairman Emeritus Manuel V. Pangilinan shares, "I hope all of us will take pride and joy in not only seeing the World Cup logo but in hosting the World Cup. With Christmas just around the corner, and the pandemic still looming over us, it's great to have good news that will lift our spirits."

PLDT Chief Revenue Officer, SMART President and CEO, and newly-minted Philippine Olympic Committee First Vice President Alfredo S. Panlilio adds, "This is a huge step in bringing our athletes closer to the world stage. PLDT and Smart have always been at the forefront when it comes to supporting Filipino athletes and their journey to greatness."

FIBA Secretary-General Andreas Zagklis had this to say about the partnership: "We are extremely pleased to welcome Smart Communications Inc. as a FIBA Global Partner. Joining forces with a leading telecommunications company such as Smart will bring unrivalled opportunities in the lead up to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023. Giving our fans the best ever experience, whether at home or in arenas, is a crucial aspect of any FIBA event, and even more so for this showcase competition. We are looking forward to working with Smart to harness their state-of-the-art technologies and 5G capabilities to deliver the most connected and engaging FIBA Basketball World Cup to date."

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Over 100 international players headline Opening Night rosters in NBA

Basketball continues to be a global game, and that is very much apparent in the National Basketball Association.

The NBA revealed that the Opening Night rosters from its thirty teams in the league number towards 107 international players from 41 countries, including seventeen from Canada and fourteen from Africa.

It's the seventh straight season the NBA has broken the century mark with its international players, with every single team having an international player on its roster. The high-water remains 113 players in the 2016-17 season and 42 nations in the 2017-18 season.

An addition ten more international players from eight countries are on two-way contracts, which could allow them to play up to fifty NBA regular season fixtures.

Aside from Canada, the nation with the most number of players from outside the United States is France, which has nine. That group includes Killian Hayes, who made history as the highest-drafted French native at seventh overall by the Detroit Pistons.

Australia has eight players, with Serbia and Germany each having six.

The Washington Wizards can be considered as the most diverse team in the NBA with their seven international players, which includes Deni Avdija. As the ninth overall pick in the recent NBA Draft, he is the highest-drafted Israeli ever.

The Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets each have six players, with both teams riding on their international superstars: Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis for the former, and Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray for the latter.

Three teams have five international players: the New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Toronto Raptors.

A record 34 players on these rosters are alums of the Basketball Without Borders program, which is the global basketball development and community outreach program run by both the NBA and FIBA. Since 2001, 76 BWB alums have been either drafted into the league or signed as free agents. Outstanding players who have BWB roots include Joel Embiid (BWB Africa 2011), Murray (BWB Global 2015), and Pascal Siakam (BWB Africa 2012).

Aside from these players, there are also American players who have roots overseas. The most prominent example is Jordan Clarkson, who has represented the Philippines in the SEA Games when it took place in Indonesia. Others with a similar international lineage include Victor Oladipo (Nigeria), Matisse Thybulle (Australia and Haiti), and Karl-Anthony Towns (Dominican Republic). Thirty American players have at least one parent from Africa. Nine of those are connected to Nigeria, including recent draft selections Precious Achiuwa and Udoka Azubuike.

International players are seeking to raise their success from last season, with six players named to All-NBA teams (First Team: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Doncic, Second Team: Jokic and Siakam, Third Team: Rudy Gobert and Ben Simmons).

Fourteen internationals have been named to the All-Star team at least once: Antetokounmpo, Doncic, Goran Dragic, Embiid, Marc Gasol, Gobert, Al Horford, Kyrie Irving, Jokic, Porzingis, Domantas Sabonis, Siakam, Simmons, and Nikola Vucevic.

The recently released GM Survey for the upcoming season showed that Giannis and Luka were the top two players likely to be named as the Most Valuable Player. They are also tied as the player whom they want to start a franchise with. The same survey indicated that Jokic is considered as the best center of the league.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

UAAP formalizes new partnership with Cignal TV and SMART, set forth plans for future growth

The deal is signed. UAAP, Cignal TV, and SMART now partners for the next five years.

A new era for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.

The league on Thursday formally entered into a partnership with the country's top Pay TV provider in Cignal TV, as well as with the country's leading mobile services provider SMART Communications, with the goal of shining the spotlight on the numerous student-athletes that participate in its numerous events.

To celebrate this upcoming multi-year partnership, a memorandum of agreement signing took place at the PLDT headquarters in Makati.

Representing the UAAP are Board of Trustees Chairman Bro. Raymundo Suplico, FSC, Season 83 President Emmanuel Calanog, Vice President Fr. Aldrin Suan, Treasurer and Chairman of the Negotiating Panel Edwin Reyes, and Executive Director Rebo Saguisag, with members of the UAAP Board of Managing Directors also in attendance.

Representing Cignal TV and SMART are PLDT Chairman and President Manuel V. Pangilinan, PLDT Group Chief Revenue Officer and SMART Communications President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio, SMART Communications SVP and Consumer Business - Wireless Head Jane J. Basas, and Cignal TV and TV5 President and CEO Robert P. Galang.

The UAAP's broadcast rights had been with ABS-CBN for the last couple of decades, before the embattled company made the decision not to pursue a new deal earlier this year. It was during this tenure that the league rose to prominence in the current sports landscape.

As the league's official Philippine broadcast partner, Cignal TV will broadcast the games live via its free-to-air channel One Sports. For SMART, they will be streaming the games live through an exclusive platform available for its pre- and post-paid subscribers, an approach that was similarly used when they broadcast the NBA games inside the Disney campus earlier this year.

Galang shares, "Our joint venture with the UAAP goes beyond being an official broadcast partner. Together with providing a superior viewing experience for all sports fans nationwide, we have put in place plans to help further grow the league and its athletes — giving more depth to our partnership." He also adds, "We are confident that this undertaking will inspire and revitalize our countrymen who have such a deep affinity for sports. From the Cignal team, and the rest of the MVP group, it is with great pleasure that we welcome the UAAP, and we are extremely excited to begin our partnership."

Panlilio says, "Our partnership with UAAP opens a lot of groundbreaking opportunities to further expand the digital footprint of the country's biggest collegiate league while we leverage on the strength of our Smart LTE and 5G networks to give viewers an amazing mobile streaming experience. Through the power of digital technology, we hope to inspire more Filipino youth to discover and cultivate their passion for sports and strive for excellence."

Aside from securing broadcast rights, both Cignal TV and SMART have committed to continuously grow the popularity of the UAAP and its student-athletes through various activities within the league's member schools, allowing it to extend such an engagement to the students.

Bro. Suplico had this to say about their partnership: "The partnership with Cignal TV and Smart will continue to bring the UAAP closer to the students and alumni of the member schools as well as the general public. We are grateful for this opportunity to showcase and highlight UAAP’s values, especially, promoting amateur sportsmanship and the well-rounded development of our student athletes, through the various platforms of Cignal TV and Smart."

The league had recently announced that it is shelving its 83rd season due to the pandemic, allowing all parties to better focus on their preparations for the 84th season this coming September 2021. In spite of the cancellation, all three parties remain committed in bringing the top high school and collegiate league back at the earliest possible time.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

FIBA enters into exclusive partnership with SMART

FIBA on Thursday announced an exclusive global partnership with Smart, one that will last until the end of 2023.

The partnership was revealed through a virtual press conference between both parties and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, which is one of the co-hosts of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

The deal assures SMART of key commercial rights across all FIBA competitions throughout its deal, which includes the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, the different FIBA Continental Cups, the FIBA Youth World Cups, and both Basketball World Cups (women in 2022, men in 2023).

With the use of SMART's 5G in the recent All-Filipino Cup of the Philippine Basketball Association, the Philippines' leading mobile services provider will lend their technological know-how to FIBA as well in the lead up to, and during the upcoming FIBA World Cup. Their cooperation is also expected to provide a wide array of exciting experiences for the athletes and the fans worldwide.

Representing FIBA in the announcement is its Secretary-General Andreas Zagklis, while wearing both hats in the press conference are Manuel V. Pangilinan (PLDT Chairman, SBP Chairman Emeritus, FIBA Central Board Member) and Alfredo S. Panlilio (SMART President and CEO, SBP President).

MVP shares, "Our partnership with FIBA is a milestone for the whole nation, just as it is for our company. Through Smart's mobile innovations, we look forward to introducing immersive digital experiences that will bring hardcourt action to the fingertips of basketball fans around the world and connect us all in our love for the sport."

Panlilio adds, "This is a huge step in bringing our athletes closer to the world stage. Smart has always been at the forefront when it comes to supporting Filipino athletes and their journey to greatness."

Zagklis shares, "We are extremely pleased to welcome Smart Communications as a FIBA Global Partner. Joining forces with a leading telecommunications company such as Smart will bring unrivalled opportunities in the lead up to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023. Giving our fans the best ever experience, whether at home or in arenas, is a crucial aspect of any FIBA event, and even more so for this flagship competition. We are looking forward to working with Smart to harness their state-of-the-art technologies and 5G capabilities to deliver the most connected and engaging FIBA Basketball World Cup to date."

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Five Filipino fighters seen for potential inclusion in upcoming BRAVE CF Russia card

Stephen Loman with Khabib Nurmagomedov

The Bahrain-based BRAVE Combat Federation has made strides into becoming one of the more known combat sports promotions since its establishment back in late 2016.

With almost fifty live events under its belt and holding them across twenty different countries, including the Philippines, BRAVE CF is considered as one of the fastest-growing mixed martial arts outfits.

Come next year, they will continue to make more milestones, as they are set to hold their first-ever event in Russia.

Set to take place in January 16 at Sochi, the fight card may potentially include a Filipino to mark that special occasion.

According to BRAVE CF president Mohammed Shahid, "The Philippines has been a focus for BRAVE Combat Federation from the very beginning. From time to time, warriors from the Philippines prove that they have not only the skill to compete at the international level but also the heart that matters when it comes to combat sports."

Although no official announcement has been made, there are five potential Pinoy fighters who may have a shot at landing a spot on that Sochi card.

Stephen Loman. At 14-2, the Team Lakay standout is probably the one that has the best profile amongst the potential fighters. Loman has been the headliner of three of BRAVE CF's cards, including their first fight event in the Philippines back in March 2019.

The 25-year-old is the first BRAVE CF Bantamweight world champion and its longest-reigning titleholder. However, he has yet to fight since a unanimous decision victory over Louie Sanoudakis at BRAVE CF 30 last November 2019.

According to Shahid, "I really believe that he (Loman) will take the sport of MMA to another level in the Philippines. He keeps on proving that he is a deserving champion. He is the biggest combat athlete in the Philippine along with Manny Pacquiao. I said it before and I'll say it again."

He adds, "People say we gave him the opportunity, but it's actually the opposite. He gave us the honor of fighting in our organization. I was sad that not a lot of Filipinos knew him, but now I'm the happiest man because the country found a new hero, a fighter who proudly represents the country."

Rolando Dy. The second-generation combat star has been a fixture in the mixed martial arts scene of the Philippines for almost a decade. The son of boxing legend Rolando Navarrete, he is best remembered by BRAVE CF aficionados for his knockout victory over Mehmosh Raza on BRAVE CF 22, where his left hook-right straight combination in the first round sent the Pakistani's mouthguard flying.

Dy is fresh from improving his record to 14-9 after a unanimous decision win over John Brewin in a lightweight title eliminator last November 5 during BRAVE CF 44. The victory earned him a title shot against Amin Ayoub, and both guys are expected to eventually face off for the belt.

Jeremy Pacatiw. Another standout from Team Lakay, The 24-year-old owns the record for most fights under the BRAVE CF banner. His ten victories include wins against Thiago Dela Coleta, Keith Lee, Uloomi Karim, and Mark Alcoba, with his latest being a first-round thwarting of former title contender Felipe Efrain back in December 2019 during BRAVE CF 33.

Pacatiw hopes to add Russia to his well-stamped passport, having fought in places like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Morocco, Brazil, Bahrain, India, and Indonesia.

Harold Banario. He's better known as Honorio's younger brother, but Harold is no slouch. After taking a four-year hiatus to purse college, the Team Lakay fighter used a kneebar submission to make Ariel Oliveros tap in BRAVE CF 22.

Banario, however, will be hoping Sochi becomes the place where he can redeem himself, after bowing to Gamzat Magomedov at BRAVE CF 33 for his second defeat in seven matches.

Jomar Pa-ac. Another member of Team Lakay, Pa-ac has won three of his last four BRAVE CF appearances, his last one being an unanimous decision victory over Satya Behuria on BRAVE CF 22.

ONE Championship, Xiaomi form partnership for 5G streaming technology

ONE Championship announced on Wednesday that it is forming a partnership with technology firm Xiaomi for its live sports production and broadcast.

Said partnership centers on the emerging use of 5G, something that Filipinos would be familiar with due to SMART's collaboration with the Philippine Basketball Association for 5G at the Clark bubble for the All-Filipino Cup.

Fight fans will be able to first observe this partnership on Friday, as ONE Championship holds its latest mixed martial arts event: ONE: COLLISION COURSE, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, as select content from the event will be made available through 5G streaming on the smartphone maker's flagship device for this year, the Mi 10.

ONE Championship Group President Hua Fung Teh states, "I am thrilled to announce this unique collaboration between ONE Championship and Xiaomi, one of the most well-loved technology brands in the world. It's a great opportunity to bring together the unrivaled action and excitement of ONE Championship martial arts with Xiaomi's fast, secure, and class-leading 5G technology. Just like our ONE Championship athletes, Xiaomi's latest Mi 10 smartphone packs a combination of raw power and excellent performance, and I am excited to showcase those capabilities with all of our viewers globally."

Xiaomi President of International Shou Zi Chew adds, "Xiaomi is delighted to deepen our ongoing partnership with ONE Championship, as we team up to inspire the next generation of sports and technology fans worldwide. By leveraging Xiaomi’s 5G-enabled Mi 10, users around the world can watch ONE Championship’s COLLISION COURSE competition from a new perspective. We look forward to showcasing the advantages of 5G technology and putting real-life superheroes in the palm of your hand."

Sunday, December 13, 2020

FIBA reveals hosts for February 2021 window for FIBA Asia Cup qualifying

More bubble action looming in February.

The success of the November 2020 window of the FIBA Asia Cup yielded good results in the view of FIBA, and as such, they will continue to use a bubble setup for the upcoming window in February.

Scheduled to take place within the February 18-22, 2021 time frame, all remaining qualifying matches are slated to completed within this window, with the added objective of safeguarding the health and safety of ALL participants.

From two hosts, the number has doubled to four: with Clark and Tokyo joining Manama and Doha as the venues for all six participating groups.

The Clark setup seeks to replicate the one used by the Philippine Basketball Association when it completed its All-Filipino Cup this season. It will host Group A, with Korea set to participate after sitting out the November window, and Group C, which also skipped the November window.

Tokyo set to make their bubble hosting debut with Group B. China will have a busy window ahead, having not played any matches so far due to the pandemic.

Manama will once again have two groups in its bubble, replacing Group A with Group F, alongside Group D. Group F did not participate in the November window.

Doha again will host Group E.

The selection of these hosts is based on their health and travel guarantees, as well as full compliance with FIBA's health protocols, which includes testing and controlled entry into a secure environment.

UAAP announces cancellation of the 83rd season

Angelo Kouame and the Ateneo Blue Eagles will have to wait to defend their title.

The UAAP released this statement on Friday.

The University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) announces the cancellation of its 83rd season.

After a series of discussions, the UAAP Board of Trustees came to this difficult decision, putting major consideration on the health and safety of the student-athletes and those involved in the operations of our competitions.

The decision will allow UAAP member-schools to plan their activities for the remainder of the academic year, as well as their athletic programs for next season. 

Both the Board of Trustees and the Board of Managing Directors will further discuss the implications of the cancellation for the guidance of the member-schools and student-athletes.

The pandemic earlier this year forced the league to conclude its 82nd season prematurely, with most sports scheduled in the second semester either unable to finish their campaigns or never got off the ground.

As for the 83rd season, the league made the decision to move its planned start date from September to early 2021, before making the announcement that it is cancelling the season.

It is being reported that La Salle will be granted hosting rights for the 84th season, in light of these developments.

This also would have been the first season under their new broadcast partnership with Cignal TV.

SMART Omega to hold special eSports exhibition with select sports stars


Even with their ongoing participation in the second season of The Nationals, SMART Omega eSports keep themselves busy with some change-of-pace action, as they continue their preparations for the upcoming M2 World Championships.

The squad, who finished second in the sixth season of MPL-Philippines, invited select student-athletes, as well as players from Spikers' Turf side PLDT Home Fibr to join them in for a set of exhibition matches, called the Omega Crossover.

According to SMART Omega team manager Miko Cuartero, "We want showcase that everyone can be a gamer no matter what sport you play. We also want to show how mobile gaming can bring everyone together."

Set to take place from December 13 to 15, the showpiece exhibition will feature two members of SMART Omega, two student-athletes, and an Ultra Fast Hitter in one team. The composition of the teams will be made in random. On the 15th, all players will be live at Omega's state-of-the-art hub in Quezon City.

Set to participate in the Omega Crossover are SJ Belangel and Dave Ildefonso of Ateneo, Shaun Ildefonso and Chino Mosqueda of National University, Kevin Quiambao and Emman Galman of La Salle, and Kemark Carino and Joshua Tagala of San Beda.

Representing PLDT Home Fibr are John Vic De Guzman, Mark Alfafara, Joshua Umandal, and Richard Solis.

Comprising SMART Omega are "Toshi" Adrian Bacallo, "Haze" Jeniel Bata-anon, "Heath" Earvin Esperanza, "Hadjizy" Salic Imam, "KurTzy" Jankurt Matira, "Kenji" Kenneth Villa, "Daledalus" Steven Vitug, and "Otit" Anthony Senedrin.

The event will be streamed on SMART Omega's Facebook page, with the matches taking place at 5pm and 730pm.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Philippines retains spot in FIBA 5x5 rankings


FIBA this week released its rankings for the senior 5x5 divisions, with the Philippines maintaining its current position after the conclusion of matches in the November window.

In the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, Gilas is in 31st place as the sixth-best team in Asia with 340.8 points.

This output is buoyed by their two wins against Thailand in the latest round of Asia Cup qualifying inside the bubble at Manama, Bahrain. They beat them 93-61 last November 27 and 93-69 three days later.

The top twenty nations in the men's division went relatively unchanged, with the United States still at the top spot, followed by Spain, Australia, Argentina, and Serbia. The only changes mainly saw Russia swap spots with Czech Republic at 9th and 11th, while Puerto Rico dropped a couple of spots to 18th, moving both Slovenia and Germany up a slot each.

The Czech Republic dropped both of their matches in EuroBasket qualifying, with Russia managing a split, beating Estonia and losing to Italy.

Slovenia will get a chance to extend their reign as EuroBasket champions as their earned their spot in the Final Round with wins over Ukraine and Austria.

Syria and Saudi Arabia's respective splits in Asia Cup qualifying also reflected their improvements in the rankings, as they each moved up five spots to 90th and 91st overall.

Entering the top 100 nations at 98th overall is South Sudan, whose 2-1 record in AfroBasket qualifying in Rwanda moved them up nine spots. The team is coached its federation president and NBA star Luol Deng.

One spot behind South Sudan is Albania, who moved up seven spots after their results against Portugal and Belarus. A similar rise was seen from Kenya, who are now at 115th overall even with defeats to noted regional powerhouses Angola and Senegal.

Blowout losses to Tunisia, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo netted a thirty-spot plummet for Madagascar to 124th overall, the biggest drop in the rankings.

Expect more movement on the men's side when action resumes for the upcoming February window.

In the distaff side, the Philippines dropped down a spot to 50th overall as the seventh-best team in Asia with 124.5 points.

Gilas Women recently were in the news with head coach Pat Aquino seeking to bolster the national team pool by adding outstanding young standouts with Filipino ancestry, a group that includes Duke freshman Vanessa de Jesus.

Only teams in Europe seeing action for their Women's EuroBasket qualifying were counted during this window, which makes for relatively minimal movement atop the rankings.

Still keeping their top five spots are the United States, Australia, Spain, Canada, and France.

The only change in the top twenty saw Belgium and Turkey swap spots in sixth and seventh.

Belgium's wins over Ukraine and Portugal moved them up to sixth. The Cats have ensured their spot in the Final Round in the process, becoming the first team to earn a berth for next year's tournament that is set to be co-hosted by France and Spain.

Turkey dropped down a spot due to a double overtime loss to Serbia. At 1-2, they have yet to earn a berth in the final in Group E.

The biggest rise in the women's rankings saw Finland's win over Portugal move the Susiladies up eight spots to 58th, while Bulgaria's win over Iceland moved them up six spots to 44th overall.

FIBA tweaked the algorithm in both rankings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the suspension of FIBA competitions this year. Calculations for the rankings have to include two Olympic Games at all times, and with the Tokyo 2020 iteration having been moved to 2021, necessary adjustments had to be made.

FIBA reveals logo for 2023 World Cup

FIBA 2023 World Cup logo. #DontMissABeat

In line with the #DontMissABeat campaign, FIBA revealed its official logo for the 2023 Basketball World Cup this past Friday.

Three elements are being emphasized in the logo: a heart, the Naismith Trophy, and the year 2023.

The sideways heart symbolize the passion for the game. It also happens to be the main battlecry for the Philippines in sporting competition as "PUSO."

The presence of the Naismith Trophy, which is given to the FIBA World Cup champion, represents the dream of all the participating teams in the competition.

The number 23 represents 2023, the year the next FIBA World Cup takes place, to be hosted in multiple countries for the first time: the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia.

All three co-hosts exhibit a strong passion for the sport of basketball, something the new 2023 FIBA World Cup logo embodies as it brings together millions of fans, with their millions of hearts beating as one.

FIBA Central Board member and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Chairman Emeritus Manuel V. Pangilinan shares, "We Filipinos are all proud to be a part of this important milestone in basketball, together with Japan and Indonesia."

He adds, "The Philippines look forward to extending our brand of hospitality to the participating teams, to the world congress delegates, and to the many visitors expected to come - true to the essence of the logo we are launching today - a heart, the puso of the Filipino. Our Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte expressed his support to make the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 an unqualified success and said, '[we want to] turn this event into a proud and dignified moment for our country."

Japan Basketball Association President Yuko Mitsuya says, "We are very pleased to be part of the launch of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 official logo. For the first time in history, the tournament will be hosted by three countries. We will continue to work together with FIBA, the Philippines, Indonesia and the city of Okinawa to create a moment where basketball fans from all around the world will feel their hearts beat together and share the excitement of the game of basketball."

Indonesian Basketball Association (PERBASI) President Danny Kosasih adds, "The official logo launch is the first exciting step of many for all three host nations, for FIBA and basketball fans worldwide. The logo certainly represents all three host nations' spirit of uniting and working together with the same heartbeat to deliver the best basketball experiences that fans could ever have. On this special occasion, we would also like to ask basketball fans around the world to be part of this extraordinary event by taking part in the #DontMissABeat campaign. Join us and be part of this historic event."

FIBA Secretary-General Andreas Zagklis says, "This is a very exciting milestone. The distinctive FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 logo symbolizes our love for the game, which is shared by the organizing committees and FIBA, and it also represents the vision and passion of the event that brings together, for the first time, three host countries."

The 2023 iteration of the FIBA World Cup will take place from August 25 to September 10, 2023, with Manila, Okinawa, and Jakarta acting as hubs for the Group Phase. Manila then becomes the main host for the Final Phase. For these seventeen days, all three nations will be sharing the passion and dream, creating three times the amount of energy and excitement.

Qualification for the tournament is set to commence in the November 2021 window, and will last until February 2023. Around 80 teams are expected to fight for a place in the Group Phase, which offers 32 slots, which already includes the ones allocated to hosts Philippines and Japan, as well as to Indonesia, provided their team meets FIBA's specified criteria. 

The unveiling of the logo is merely the latest attempt by FIBA to jumpstart their "Don't Miss a Beat" campaign, which has the objective of ensuring that the basketball community remains united and active for the next few months.

Said campaign is also encouraging fans everywhere to have fun with the music beats linked to basketball on their respective social media channels via the hashtag #DontMissABeat. To help foster that, expect national team members from the co-hosts to get involved over the next few weeks.

It will also use the federation's social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Weibo, and WeChat) in conveying said message.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

NBA releases first half of 2020-21 regular season schedule

With the announcement that the NBA is set to start its 2020-21 season later this month, one of the more anticipated aspects of the season has been when the schedule will be released.

That took place on Friday, as the league released its schedule for the First Half of the regular season, which lasts from December 22 to March 4 (December 23 to March 5 in Manila).

It had been previously announced that the NBA will open its season with a double-header on December 22, with the Kia NBA Tip-Off 2020 featuring the Brooklyn Nets and the Golden State Warriors in the first half of the doubleheader, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Aside from that special doubleheader, a five-game slate was announced for the 73rd edition of the NBA on Christmas Day: the New Orleans Pelicans at the Miami Heat, Warriors at the Milwaukee Bucks, Nets at the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks at the Lakers, and the Clippers at the Denver Nuggets.

Teams in the upcoming 2020-21 season will have a 72-game regular season, broken down into 30 inter-conference matchups and 42 matchups within their respective conferences. The latter means that each team will face teams within its conference thrice. The First Half will see teams each play either 37 or 38 games, 17-20 of which will be home matchups. With 558 games to be played, the First Half comprises 52% of the upcoming season.

The NBA also adopted a "series" model for the upcoming season, as it tries to find means to reduce travel. There are certain instances where teams will be playing consecutive matches against teams in one market. In crafting the schedule, the NBA has established that each team will play an average of four such "series: in the First Half, split between home and road.

In addition, the league has almost halved instances where teams have to make single-game road trips, as well as playing consecutive road games against geographically close opposition.

Notable matchups taking place on the First Half this season include (Manila time):

December 27: Atlanta Hawks at Memphis Grizzlies (6am), Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks (830am), Houston Rockets at Portland Trailblazers (11am)

January 19: Phoenix Suns at Memphis Grizzlies (6am) for the 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Game, Orlando Magic at New York Knicks (1am), Minnesota Timberwolves at Atlanta Hawks (330am),  Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets (830am), Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers (11am)

January 31: Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics (930am)

February 21: Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers (930am)

February 22: Boston Celtics at New Orleans Pelicans (430am)

March 1: Los Angeles Clippers at Milwaukee Bucks (430am)

The league also shared that twenty games will be made available in primetime for those in Europe, the Middle East, and in Africa, dubbing it as the "NBA Saturdays and NBA Sundays presented by NBA 2K21." In addition, the First Half will be made available in 215 countries and territories in over forty languages.

As for the Second Half of the season, it starts on March 12 (Manila time) and will last until May 17 (Manila time). It will comprise the remainder of each team's schedule, as well as any games that were postponed during the First Half that can be reasonably integrated in. The Playoff Play-In Tournament will then take place on May 19-22 (Manila time), with the 2021 NBA Playoffs set to start on May 23 until July 23 (Manila time).

The schedule for the Second Half of the regular season will be made available at a later date.

The NBA also launched its season campaign hashtag, #OnlyHere, on social media, highlighting the unique action and excitement unlike any other you will experience this season. 

Friday, December 4, 2020

ONE Championship tweaks ONE: Big Bang card

Final card for ONE Championship's ONE: Big Bang

ONE Championship made a few changes for tonight's mixed martial arts event, ONE: Big Bang, as a result of a couple of fighters withdrawing from the card as a result of COVID-19 protocols.

ONE Light Heavyweight Kickboxing World Champion Roman Kryklia's matchup against Murat Aygun is now off after Kryklia has been placed into quarantine due to close contact with an individual testing positive back on November 27. Roman did test negative for COVID-19, however.

ONE Championship did managed to find a replacement, as Anderson Silva steps up to face Aygun in a light heavyweight kickboxing bout.

In addition, the fight between Marat Grigorian and Ivan Kondratev has been elevated as ONE: Big Bang's main event.

Greco-Roman Wrestling World Champion Amir Aliakbari's ONE Championship debut will have to wait, as his matchup was removed from the card. He had tested positive for COVID-19 prior to fight,  but based on serological tests was due to a past infection.

Aliakbari managed to test negative before flying in to Singapore for the fight, and already has been discharged from the hospital. Unfortunately, his participation in ONE: Big Bang has been ruled out as an added precaution.

Two matches have been added to the card as well.

Jihin Radzuan and Bi Nguyen face off in an atomweight matchup, while Andy Souwer and Zhang Chunyu tangle in a featherweight kickboxing clash.

Below is the complete card for ONE: Big Bang and the accompanying final weight and hydration results for the fighters involved.

Kickboxing - Featherweight (65.9 KG – 70.3 KG)

Marat Grigorian (70.10 KG, 1.0066) vs. Ivan Kondratev (70.00 KG, 1.0044)

Mixed Martial Arts - Featherweight (65.9 KG – 70.3 KG)

Koyomi Matsushima (70.30 KG, 1.0156) vs. Garry Tonon (70.30 KG, 1.0061)

Kickboxing - Light Heavyweight (93.1 KG – 102.1 KG)

Anderson Silva (101.60 KG, 1.0132) vs. Murat Aygun (101.40 KG, 1.0176)

Kickboxing - Featherweight (65.9 KG – 70.3 KG)

Andy Souwer (70.30 KG, 1.0241) vs. Zhang Chunyu (70.05 KG, 1.0195)

Mixed Martial Arts - Strawweight (52.3 KG – 56.7 KG)

Bokang Masunyane (56.65 KG, 1.0199) vs. Rene Catalan (55.25 KG, 1.0027)

Mixed Martial Arts - Atomweight (47.7 KG – 52.2 KG)

Jihin Radzuan (52.20 KG, 1.0207) vs. Bi Nguyen (51.60 KG, 1.0210)

Mixed Martial Arts - Atomweight (47.7 KG – 52.2 KG)

Ritu Phogat (51.85 KG, 1.0070) vs. Jomary Torres (51.05 KG, 1.0014)

*Hydration values less than or equal to 1.0250 earn a passing mark, while values greater than or equal to 1.0251 earn a failing mark. Athletes who failed weight and hydration tests on Day 1 or Day 2 are given another chance to clear tests on the morning of the event.

NBA reveals portion of its early slate, Nets-Warriors and Lakers-Clippers on Opening Night


The NBA announced on Wednesday its national television schedule for the United States to kick off its 2020-21 season, doing so with highly-anticipated matchups on Opening Night and Christmas.

For Opening Night on December 22 (23 in Manila), the league will have the Golden State Warriors traveling to New York to play the Brooklyn Nets in the first half of the doubleheader, which will be Kevin Durant's first meeting with the Warriors since leaving the team in free agency to join the Nets ahead of the 2019-20 season.

The second half of the doubleheader features a matchup between two Staples Center tenants: freshly-minted champions the Los Angeles Lakers serving as the home team against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers are expected to have a pre-game championship-related ceremony, even though fans will not be allowed inside Staples Center for the time being due to pandemic-related restrictions.

As for Christmas (December 26 in Manila), which is considered a red-letter-day for the basketball community, five games are on tap:

The first sees the New Orleans Pelicans travel to Miami to face the Heat, then followed by the Warriors visiting Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Nets travel to Boston to face the Celtics in a matchup of top contenders in the Eastern Conference.

The remaining two matchups involve the Los Angeles teams. The Lakers will host Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, while the Clippers travel to Denver to face the Nuggets, the team they lost to in the second round of the playoffs last season.

Aside from these two days, the NBA also revealed two games from its schedule for December 23 (24 in Manila). The Bucks will open its season against the Celtics, while the Mavericks will head to the desert to face Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns.

The complete first half (until March 4, 2021) of the schedule will be revealed on Friday (Saturday in Manila).

Here is the confirmed schedule as mentioned:

As for local broadcast, the NBA and Cignal TV, will determine which matches will be shown on its channels, whether TV5, One Sports, or NBA TV Philippines.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Perpetual names Saguiguit as its new head coach

The University of Perpetual Help System Dalta made it official on Tuesday night, hiring Mike Saguiguit as its new head coach for its senior men's basketball team.

Anton Tamayo, in his capacity as Perpetual's liaison officer-in-charge for the athletic program, made the announcement. He says of the decision, "He’s now the coach starting December 1."

In naming him as the head coach at the senior level, the school is also realigning Saguiguit's duties for its high school program, tasking him with overseeing responsibilities. However, he has decided to yield head coaching duties for the Junior Altas to one of his assistants, Joph Cleofas.

According to Mike about the move to name Joph to that particular post, "He will be the new high school coach but I will still look after them as we only have one program."

The 46-year old has been handling both squads on an interim basis ever since Frankie Lim left the program earlier this year.

Also serving as the head coach of the Paranaque Patriots in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, Saguiguit will be tasked to return the Altas to the Final Four in the upcoming 96th season of the NCAA.

He shares that the core of the team that finished 5-13 last season will return, with the likes of Jielo Razon, Ben Adamos, and Tonton Peralta being bolstered by the addition of Mario Barasi, Jr.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Pilipinas takes Group A lead in FIBA Asia Cup Qualifying

Photo c/o FIBA / FIBA-Asia

The Philippines achieved their objectives in the November qualifying window of the FIBA Asia Cup on Monday night, dispatching Thailand once again, 93-69.

Unlike their first meeting on Friday, Gilas Pilipinas decided to put things out of reach from the get-go, scoring the first eleven points of the game. A combination of the trademark unselfishness and steady long-distance shooting did the trick this time, converting ten triples in the first half and ending up with sixteen for the game.

Half of those came from the Gomez de Liano brothers, who finished with a combined 33 points.

Elder brother Javi stood out this time, converting all four of his three-pointers to finish with nineteen points on 7/8 shooting overall.

Younger brother Juan added fourteen markers on 4/6 shooting from beyond the arc, while also adding four rebounds and four assists.

Calvin Oftana impressed in his senior national team debut, as last season's Most Valuable Player stuffed the stat sheet with nine points on 3/5 three-point shooting, four rebounds, four assists, a steal, and a rejection.

The Thais tried to keep pace against the Pinoys, doing so on the shoulders of their workhorse Chanatip Jakrawan, who put up a game-high 34 points and twelve rebounds, a steal and a couple blocks. Wattana Suttisin added thirteen points, five rebounds, and four assists. They have yet to secure a win in Group A after four games, with matchups against Indonesia and Korea still to be played.

Gilas heads into the upcoming February window with a 3-0 record, toting a half-game lead over Korea, whom they still have yet to face in qualifying after the East Asians decided on sitting out this window due to pandemic-related matters.