- There is a rumor that Ateneo has abandoned the UAAP formula for scheduling games
- La Salle is protesting a tough early schedule, based on the rumor
- While Ateneo should not change the schedule for the heck of it, La Salle ought to play whatever hand is dealt to them.
Disclaimer: I have not seen the initial proposed schedule that is the basis for this complaint.
Being the host school of the UAAP is no fun. Aside from coordinating all the events, booking venues, and calling together meetings for when coaches and teams start lobbing eligibility grenades at each other, the host school is an easy target of complaints and accusations that said institution is fixing things in favor of their teams. And given that Ateneo is the host for Season 74, you can expect a lot of verbal jabs and slams and put-downs headed their way, especially from their arch-rivals, DLSU.
As early as now, the Archers have already found something that has them 100% convinced that the hosts are out to screw them, and in turn, improve Ateneo's chances of winning. Allegedly, a preliminary schedule of the basketball tournament reveals that the host school has abandoned the usual formula found in the UAAP rulebook for pairings. If the rumor is to be believed, Ateneo deliberately stacked the deck against DLSU, giving them FEU, ADMU, UST and AdU as their first four match-ups. Since the issue surfaced, many green-shirts have been calling "foul," with some doomsayers tearing their hair out at the thought of starting the season 0-4.
Right off the bat, I will agree with DLSU in that Ateneo had better have a good reason to abandon the scheduling procedure set out in the rule book. The truth is, host schools fiddle with the schedule all the time. For example, in Season 72, the second Ateneo vs La Salle match-up had to be moved to a later date as it would have been a back to back encounter, and Araneta had to buy more paper to print tickets or something (that's sarcasm, by the way). On a smaller level, the host school also has the prerogative to move match-ups that sell a lot of tickets to bigger venues. Neither of those two cases though are on the same level as the supposed wholesale shuffling around of the schedule, which is what is implied in this situation, though.
With that said, while the principle of changing the schedule for no real reason should be deplored, I have no problem with the practical applications, and neither should La Salle.
For starters, it's awfully presumptive of them to complain that Ateneo is stacking the deck against them, as the unvocalized thought there is, "We think UP and UE are weak teams" (I'd like to think DLSU is aware that Parks or no Parks, NU is a pretty good team). That's the sort of inherent comment that makes for nice bulletin board material, and lays the groundwork for an upset on the level of "Mike Silungan and Mike Gamboa combine for 15 triples," or "Adrian Santos pulls down 20 rebounds." I personally feel that while some teams may not have as much talent on paper as others, every team has a good chance of beating every other team should all the pieces click. Thus, saying, "please sprinkle in some easy teams there," may not even be possible at all this season.
I also don't think that scheduling can be considered a factor as to whether or not a team wins because of the fact that no team in the UAAP ever plays a literal back to back like in the NBA (and there's no cross-country travel to boot!). Unless Ateneo gives La Salle a Saturday game, followed by a Sunday game, I don't think the Archers can cite fatigue, or a lack of preparation. The closest thing to a "back to back" would be a Thursday game, followed by a Saturday game*, itself, also something of a rarity in the UAAP (there were seven instances of it happening last season), but unless Ateneo gives them something along the lines of FEU on Sunday, ADMU next Saturday, UST next next Thursday, Adamson next next Saturday, then I think there's no problem here. And given how none of the complaints I've read online actually complain about the play dates, just the opposition, I think this isn't an issue.
I also think the whole argument reeks of a defeatist attitude and has the potential to be a self-fulfilling prophecy should that exact schedule indeed push through. You're not much of a La Salle fan if you think you're going to start 0-4, let's admit that. And you're going to play those four teams eventually anyway, so what difference does it make when you're going to play them? And if you actually win all four match-ups, doesn't that make your team look really good? One colleague of mine keeps telling me that La Salle is a championship contender this year. I don't believe him, but a 4-0 record, or even a 3-1 record against those squads might sway my thoughts.
Lastly, I don't think complaining about the schedule does anything good for the players. Part of what sports is (or should be) is the attitude that you show up to play, no matter who's facing you on the other side of the court. Cries of "0-4" don't exactly display your university's faith in your team. And arguing fervently to change the schedule falls closer to "win it in the boardroom" than "win it on the hardcourt."
In the end, I agree with critics that Ateneo should not change the way the schedule is constructed for the heck of it, but if the schedule sticks, in spite of whatever protests the other member schools have (I've only really seen DLSU and FEU bring up the unfairness of it) then so be it. Play the games out, and always remember, when it's your turn to host again in seven years, then you can put the screws on them.
*The seven Thursday to Saturday games were:
AdU: Jul 15 ADMU (L) & Jul 17 UP(W)
DLSU: Sep 2 UST (W) & Sep 4 UE (L)
NU: Jul 15 DLSU (W) & Jul 17 FEU (L)
NU: Sep 2 FEU (L) & Sep 4 ADU (W)
UE: Jul 22 FEU (L) & Jul 24 NU (L)
UP: Aug5 ADMU (L) & Aug 7 NU (L)
UP: Aug 26 AdU (L) & Aug 28 UST (L)