Former La Salle Green Archers standout and professional basketball player Renren Ritualo and Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters big man Beau Belga are among the athletes disheartened with the sudden termination of ABS-CBN’s free-to-air channels.
Not only did ABS-CBN become part of their viewing habits, but it was also integral to their development as athletes.
Belga played for the Philippine Christian University Dolphins from 2003 to 2008 and won the championship in NCAA Season 80 with Jayson “The Blur” Castro and Gabby Espinas.
“Sa NCAA career ko, malaking bagay. Du’n din nagbi-base ’yung scouting ng semi-pro and pro league,” Belga said in an online interview with this writer.
“Du’n sila nakakakuha ng ideas kung pa’no maglaro ang player. Very thankful kami as professionals na pinrovide ng Studio 23 sa amin. Exposed na exposed kami.
“Nu’ng time na ’yun, tatlong beses kami nasa finals ng PCU kasama si Gabby at Jayson. ’Yun ang nagbigay ng break sa’ming tatlo.”
Meanwhile, Ritualo won four championships with the Green Archers from 1998 to 2001, and he acknowledged that ABS-CBN’s regular coverage put that squad on the map.
“Nu’ng rookie year until third year ko, (UAAP) was with PTV-Silverstar. My fourth and fifth year, ABS-CBN na ’yung nagko-cover,” Ritualo said.
“Nu’ng na-cover kami ng Studio 23, nag-boom’yung UAAP nu’n, nakilala talaga kami. Dati pili lang ’yung tine-televise ng PTV-Silverstar. Luckiliy, I was with La Salle kaya lagi kami nate-televise.
“Malaking difference talaga with other teams and schools na ma-televise every game, so ’yun ’yung pinrovide ng Studio 23 at that time. Nu’ng rookie year ko ’til third year, hindi televised lahat ng game.”
Currently, Ritualo and Belga are working as professionals in the industry.
Ritualo was a member of the Adamson Falcons coaching staff and is now the current sports director of Aclan Sports Skills Factory, while Belga is on the active roster of Rain Or Shine in the PBA. Both are former national team members.
Ritualo added that media coverage has made their lives easier as coaches in terms of scouting and monitoring games.
“If we’re scouting, di kami makapunta ng venue itself, mabilis mong mapapanood kasi televised at du’n kami kukuha ng copies sa mga nagccover ng games,” he said.
Besides their day jobs, Ritualo is a broadcast analyst for NCAA basketball games, while Belga is a resident analyst on “The Score” on S+A and has his own show, “Extra Rice,” which airs on the same channel.
With the sudden shutdown of the network and no uncertainty when it returns, it will be a challenge for family men such as, Ritualo, who also depended on this TV stint as a means of livelihood.
“I have a family now. ’Yung kinikita ko sa pagko-commentator kahit twice a week ang trabaho, malaking bagay ’yun,” Ritualo said.
“ ’Pag nagkaanak ka, mahal ang gatas at diaper (laughs). Every source of income, malaking bagay ’yun. ’Pag nawala ang broadcasting, kasama din ’yun sa budget."
On a bigger scale, if TV broadcast is still suspended, Belga said it will be a bigger challenge for athletes who have a lot to prove.
“Magiging mahirap dahil ang laki ng advantage ng may TV. Hindi lahat ng professional scouts is pupunta sa venue para panoorin ang mga player. They also see videos na nakukuha online,” he said.
“Kung last year gumawa ka ng pangalan, then OK. Pero papano ’yung papasimula or pausbong ka pa lang? Kaya malaking bagay yung TV.”
Ritualo added: “ ’Yung oras ng player, importante ‘yan. Hindi every year maganda lalaruin mo. What if ito ’yung year mo at nag-prepare ka kaagad? What if ito na ’yung chance mo na maganda ’yung laro, (pero) walang coverage, eh di walang makakakita?
“Pa’no kung ito na ’yung year na magpi-peak ka? ’Yung chance na mapataas mo ’yung stock mo going to the pros or ma-expose at makilala ka ng tao, importante ’yun to be known and exposed to other players and teams.”
Belga said that ABS-CBN has succeeded in covering different sporting events because of innovation.
“Hindi basta basta. Hindi maipapasa mo lang sa isang channel na kayang ipakita ’yung nagagawa ng Studio 23 (S+A). Malaking korporasyon kapag pinasa mo, hindi instant,” Belga said.
“Ang kagandahan sa ABS, gamay na nila. Ang ginagawa nila, ’yun at ’yun. Dinadagdagan na lang ng mga panibagong aspects at gamay na gamay na nila pano patakbuhin."
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.