BANKING on a solid and growing fan base, the basketball finals of the most premier league in the country, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), will be aired live over media giant ABS-CBN.

Peter Musngi, head of ABS-CBN Sports, said the move came after the company mulled of expanding the reach of the UAAP which is entering its 73rd season on July 10.

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“This year, we will be breaking the usual airing of the basketball finals over Studio 23. For this season, Game 1 will be aired over ABS CBN Channel 2 up to Game 3 if necessary. We want to expand the viewership of the UAAP in the country,” he said.

Musngi said the double eliminations and pre-final matches will be shown live and with replays on its sister channels Studio 23 and cable unit Balls.

The UAAP basketball finals normally fall at the end of September or early October with Ateneo and Far Eastern University as the season’s top-seeded teams.

Last year, ABS-CBN became the first and only network in the country to broadcast sports events in high definition, the latest technology employed in major television stations abroad.

HD television gives improved picture quality with enhanced sound quality at a panoramic widescreen viewing format.

The games will also be available online on studio23.tv and ABS-CBN Global, where alumni and supporters of the famous Ateneo-La Salle rivalry were able to watch the duels live in the past years.

In 2009, the UAAP board unanimously granted another multi-million five-year contract to ABS-CBN for the exclusive coverage of the games, which saw other sports in the UAAP calendar gaining prominence as well.

UAAP president Bro. Bernard Oca of host De La Salle University said they were thankful of the league’s partnership with ABS-CBN because of the steady following gained by women’s volleyball.

“To be fair to ABS-CBN, they have broadcasted games like the championship matches of events other than senior’s basketball. We know for a fact that the women’s volleyball has increased its viewership,” he said.

Campus hero

Meantime, in line of the season’s theme “Where Heroes are Made,” Oca announced the search for Campus Hero of the Year among UAAP schools in order to inspire university students to embrace heroism on their lives.

“We will ask the universities to feature students who have done heroic deeds. They should be nominated and among them will be chosen as this year’s campus hero,” he said.

To complement the closing ceremonies on March 2011, Oca said they have spruced up the usual event to attract more students to celebrate the success of a departing season.

“There will be a drumline and street dance competition in the closing ceremonies so that we can encourage the students to really watch and celebrate the season,” he said, adding that past closing rites normally had less crowd dominated by athletes and school officials.

The 73rd season of the UAAP opens shop on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)