PBA marks ‘45th’ with hoopla

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    EXPECT the coming PBA season to be one grand celebration.

    Commissioner Willie Marcial said the team governors are bent on building on the gains just made in the season just past and mark the league’s 45h season with year-long festivities.

    “Paplanuhin pa namin ng mga governors ng husto, but we’re all determined na gawing celebration iyung buong season,” Marcial told Malaya-Business Insight.

    “For sure, lahat ng gagawin namin para sa mga loyal fans ng PBA na laging nandiyan, sumusuporta.”

    The plan would be put into more concrete form and finalized during the PBA Board’s planning session in Milan, Italy this week. Marcial, some of his staff and all the teams’ representatives, led by league chairman Ricky Vargas of TNT, are set to leave today.

    The germ of the idea, bared Marcial, came after the PBA strengthened anew its claim as the nation’s top sports entertainment offering last season.

    That was the exact opposite of what was expected to be a downward slide following the PBA-backed dismal showing in last September’s FIBA World Cup.

    “Traditionally kasi, basta pangit ‘yung napakita natin sa international tournaments parang umaayaw ang mga tao,” admitted Marcial.

    But those fears were soon razed, especially during the last Governors Cup, when huge crowds came to watch the playoffs capped by Ginebra winning the title over Meralco following a break for the Christmas holidays.

    “Akala natin baka lumaylay kasi tapos na Pasko, ubos na pera ng mga tao. Hindi rin. Basta maganda ‘yung laban nandiyan talaga mga tao,” noted Marcial.

    “At napaganda rin ‘yung may bakasyon, nasabik mga tao, Napaganda tuloy.”

    Indeed, the figures in the last three games of the season-ending tournament bear Marcial out as an average of almost 15,000 paying fans watched the games.

    Whetting the crowd’s appetite for the finals was the match between NorthPort and NLEX in the quarterfinals last Nov. 27 which went into triple overtime before the Batang Pier won to realize their first semifinals appearance.

    “Doon nagsimula,” said Marcial, while also pointing out the twin gold medals won by the country’s all-pro teams in the 3×3 and 5-on-5 competitions of the SEA Games.

    “Nakaganda rin nangyari sa atin sa SEA Games,” he said.