Salud: Best is yet to comeBy Beth Celis
Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE PBA has not enjoyed such a rich box office in a long, long time until this conference.
Last Friday night alone, in Game 6 of the best of 7 championship series, the Smart-Araneta Coliseum tills registered 20,532 paying viewers. A previous game breached the 18,000-mark.
And I’m not only speaking of quantitative but also qualitative attendance here.
Among the luminaries who were spotted last Friday were Baby James Yap, Manny Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, Former Chicago Bulls center Luc Longley and “Eat Bulaga” host Vic Sotto, who was with daughter Danica Pingris.
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If there is one thing about the PBA that has been proven wrong this season, it is the notion that the ownership of several teams by a single entity will kill the league. The competition among sister teams is not a negative. If you doubt this, take a look at the attendance records in the B-Meg-Ginebra semifinal series.
Insiders say the attendance in the championship round could have broken the 25,000 record, had it been a Ginebra-B-Meg finale.
These sister teams have the biggest fan bases in the PBA today.
It is not also true that the presence of too many Fil-Ams is detrimental to the league. Look at the list of casualties this conference. Aren’t they all practically Fil-Ams?
Try to figure out why they get hurt .
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Personally, I have been trying to figure out what caused this sudden resurgence in the country’s professional basketball league.
Some of my colleagues who have seen the league’s early days say a big factor is the highly physical, rough and rugged brand of play that has characterized the games these season.
“We’re back to the ‘never-say-die’ style of play made popular by the Living Legend.’ Filipinos just love this kind of play.
“Just look at the list of injured players we have this conference: Talk ‘N Text’s Kelly Williams suffered a fractured cheekbone, Talk ‘N Text import Donell Harvey and Barako Bull’s Mick Penisi, both got their noses broken, Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa suffered a fractured eye socket, while B-Meg’s Mark Pingris needed stitches for his brows and chin and even broke a finger in the last couple of games in the Finals.”
According to my colleague, the scariest is Caguioa’s eye injury, to which the specialist has recommended surgery.
Caguioa however, chose to have the bones heal naturally. He now wears sunglasses all the time.
At the commissioner’s row, Longley was heard to have commented that the PBA game he was watching was like a rugby match. Roach, on the other hand, said it reminded him of boxing.
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Last week I bumped into PBA commissioner Chito Salud at the Ynares Center in Pasig, venue of the D-League games.
I took the opportunity to ask him, to whom or what he credited the resurgence of the PBA.
The commissioner had a long list.
No. 1 is the format of each of the three conferences: Short eliminations, more playoff games, more championships.
No. 2: New TV and radio coveror. “TV 5 and AKTV are real and excellent marketing partners.”
No. 3: The players who have responded to their responsibility to play their best at all time for the fans;
No. 4: The team owners and governors who have embraced the principle of putting public and fan interest above all league priorities.
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The commissioner said he is happy for the fans who are enjoying the PBA games again and the cagers who play hard all the time and improve their craft continuously.
“The best is yet to come,” he said.
More from this Column:
- Thrill of a lifetime for Luigi
- Good poll results for many PBA hosts
- Cebuana ready to take the leap?
- What goodwill? Visiting Sharks far from friendly
- Pacquiao-Rios a slam-bang fight