Move over Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
College basketball, specifically under the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), is the hottest game in town and continues to gain immense popularity.
UAAP teams and their young superstars have captivated this basketball-crazy country so much that bilyonaryos are willing to pay an arm and leg just to have their logo brands on their team’s kit.
A Babbler said a jersey patch could cost as much as P20 million each in a tournament which runs for just a few months.
A team can have up to five logo sponsors on their uniform which should be enough to cover the cost of running an elite college basketball program estimated at between P20 million and P100 million a year.
The budget includes coaches’ salaries, physical training and medical staff, scouting and recruitment, and foreign training.
But the logo patches are considered as gravy for most UAAP schools that have attracted cash-rich backers to bankroll their program.
University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, last season’s champion, are backed by Robinsons Retail boss Robina Gokongwei-Pe and Januario Jesus “JJ” Gregorio B. Atencio III, former president and CEO of mass housing developer 8990 Holdings.
Perennial contender Ateneo De Manila University Blue Eagles have the backing of the Metro Pacific group led by Manny V. Pangilinan.
Its archrival, De La Salle University Green Archers, have the most rich and influential backers among the teams including ultra bilyonaryos Ricky Razon and Ramon Ang, banker Lorenzo Tan, and abogado Manz Carpio (husband of Vice President Sara Duterte).
Since ultra bilyonaryo Hans Sy’s family took over National University, the Bulldogs have been a rising force in the UAAP.
The Montinola family, owner of Far Eastern University, are all in on their Tamaraws while Adamson Blue Falcons have Akari Lights owner Christopher Tiu as their major sponsor.
Only University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers have no major backer and it shows in their woeful performance.