The elimination round of UAAP Men’s Basketball has only been swept twice in the last 20 years; back in 1994 by UST and recently in 2007 by UE (FEU swept the eliminations in back-to-back seasons in 1980-1981). The incentive for doing so was changed both times directly after the feats were accomplished. After breezing through the eliminations in 1994, the Dennis Espino-led Tigers were crowned the outright Champions. Perhaps deeming it as uneventful and boring, the UAAP board decided to change the rules and bring the team that sweeps the eliminations straight to the Finals. That was what happened to UE in 2007. That team led by Mark Borboran eventually lost to DLSU. Pundits thought that UE was at a disadvantage despite them skipping the Final Four and going straight to the Finals because a one-week layover made the team rusty.
This brings us to where we are almost at right now. With Ateneo on the verge of sweeping the elimination round of Season 74 many are asking: “Is the thrice-to-beat advantage fair?” (if ADMU completes the sweep, they will need to be beaten thrice by their protagonists while they will only need to beat their opponents twice).
Before even trying to answer the question it must be established that going undefeated in the eliminations of UAAP Basketball is utterly difficult that it is only fitting for an incentive to be awarded to whoever accomplishes the sweep.
People against the current rule (few Ateneans and mostly non-Ateneans) argue that beating a team thrice in the Finals while you only need to get beaten twice is unfair and close to impossible.
However, if you look at history, there would be no question that the thrice-to-beat advantage is a lot fairer than the incentive that UE “enjoyed” back in 2007. Since 1994, the team that won all of its games in the elimination round lost Game 1 of the Finals all of the three times a team went straight to the Finals (Juniors and Seniors Division). We all know that UE got swept by DLSU in 2007. The Eaglets (led by MVP Bacon Austria) lost Game 1 of the Junior Championship (also in 2007) to the FEU Baby Tams but eventually won the series after winning two straight games. Last year’s Junior Champions, the Eaglets (which enjoyed the current advantage and led by you-know-who) also lost Game 1 to the Tiger Cubs.
There is no question that the rustiness of the sweep teams played a huge factor in all of the three cases they lost Game 1; so a best-of-3 Finals really won’t be fair.
I completely agree with the people that don’t like the thrice-to-beat advantage because beating a team like the 2011 Eagles is such a daunting task. But compared to being crowned as outright Champions and going straight to the best-of-three Finals, this one is much better.
Honestly, I don’t know if it is fair. But if you can think of a better incentive or a better UAAP format altogether, please do place a comment!!!