Venue jampacked as PBA opens brand new seasonBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines — It was a grand showcase of fireworks, nifty effects, and bright stars — an opening ceremony fitting of a shiny, brand new season.
The 38th PBA season, and the All-Filipino Cup, formally opened Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum — jampacked with fans inside the Big Dome and filled with long lines outside.
The reception of the fans Sunday night was great start for the league’s thrust to pick up where it left off, with a banner 37th season behind it.
“We want a PBA that offers a best of its class, sports entertainment, game in and game out,” said league commissioner Chito Salud in his opening speech.
Salud, once again, boasted of the improvement on gate attendance and gross receipts last season, and how the league has, slowly but surely, become more balanced.
“The competitiveness of our league is more evident,” also said Salud, as the court — which was turned into a giant screen — illuminated under him.
And all of the players gathered on the floor after a short introduction by rap group Salbakuta — actually the only time per season that all of them are rounded up.
So the league and AKTV did not waste the opportunity to recognize each of the teams’ ever-growing fanbase, showing a promo clip while dancers hoisted up the air jived to the groove.
There were Barangay Ginebra, Bansang Meralco, San Mig Coffee Planet, Petroniverse, TNT Nation, Barako Brigade — among others.
“The makeup of our following shows that we’re gaining new and younger fans,” said Salud.
The men’s basketball national team — composed mainly of select players from the PBA — was also feted by the league in the opening ceremonies.
And Salud stressed that when it came to the national squad, “we have to cooperate if we want to regain our honor, at least, in Asian Basketball — which we know we’re capable of.”
After Salud’s speech, the members of the PBA Board of Governors were introduced along with their squad’s respective muses — one of the highlights of the night.
It was not surprising that Sam Pinto in a red and black dress, Anne Curtis in skimpy bright blue dress, and the Artista Academy stars in orange, among all, had the loudest cheers.
The ceremonies were followed by the first game of the season between Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Global Port Batang Pier, which is being played at posting time.