THE future of the National Basketball Association (NBA) will be brought on free channel in the Philippines as ESPN5, a collaboration between TV5 and worldwide leader in sports ESPN, will present March Madness beginning March 14.

March Madness is the season wherein 68 teams from Division I tournaments of the US NCAA will converge and vie spots leading to the National Championship. They will play in a knockout matches starting with the First Four, the first round (Round-of-64), second round (Round-of-32), third round (Sweet 16), the Regional Finals (The Elite Eight), the National Semifinals (The Final Four) and the National Championship.

This knockout system is quite similar to what you see in Wimbledon Tennis Championship.

It’s going to be “win or go home” situation for all the teams participating, giving even the lower-seeded teams or underdogs the opportunity to pull of an upset victory in hope of completing a Cinderella Run.

These top college players seeing action in March Madness are potential NBA Draftees.

No less than Barack Obama is one of its biggest fans as the former US president likes to release his own March Madness predictions every year.

PBA star Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine, had the opportunity of playing for the Final Four of March Madness while playing for the George Mason Patriots before he was discovered by Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes to be part of the national team in the 2007 FIBA Asia. He was the only collegiate player in that pro-laden squad.

Norwood was one of the key players for the Patriots, even guarding NBA star Rudy Gay, who was then playing for University of Connecticut.

Vincent “Chot” Reyes, president and CEO of TV5 noted that like its recent coverage of the National Cheerleading Competition, the network’s presentation of March Madness is also part of ESPN5’s efforts to give Filipino sports fans the broadest array of sports content.

“We are thrilled to bring March Madness to a larger audience of basketball fans in the Philippines. Aligned with our thrust of super-serving the Filipino sports fan is the goal of providing all sports with a platform to help them reach and grow their audience. The exciting NCAA collegiate basketball is a big part of that thrust,” Mr. Reyes said.

The intense NCAA action from both the men’ and women’s tournaments will be shown on both TV and digital. ESPN5 will show key games live and on same-day telecast. All the games can also be watched live via the ESPN Player, available online and through the ESPN Player mobile app on both the App Store and Google Play. — Rey Joble