PBA: Nothing like the ‘live’ thing | Inquirer Sports
One Game At A Time

PBA: Nothing like the ‘live’ thing

/ 02:43 AM June 29, 2015

As in most game days, the PBA last Saturday started slow and easy.

Fans trickled and ambled into the Smart Araneta Coliseum for the 3 p.m. quarterfinal showdown between Rain or Shine and Barako Bull. They came in small bands of friends probably watching live for the first time, dads and moms with kids in basketball uniforms and pairs of daters probably tired of the same old stroll in the mall.

I snuggle into my upper-box seat trying to be unnoticed. It doesn’t last as some fans spot me and want to talk hoops, and some of the TV crew like cameraman Ramir Bulatao and technical director Nanding Bazarte stop by to catch up on former sports colleagues.


Willie Marcial, the PBA media bureau chief (who I did not bother for Saturday’s games because I wanted a seat in the stands) would often tell me that the Big Dome is always a good venue because of the walk-ins. Cubao is still a major thoroughfare with ample transportation like the metro rails and tons of jeeps and buses.


The current early game schedules are a departure from previous late-afternoon-to-evening stretches. The strength of an earlier afternoon schedule is it allows fans to go home when there’s still ample public transport, especially the MRT that do not run all night long.

Even then, for last Saturday’s games, the venue does not get filled to the top. The bleachers remain empty even as ever-popular San Miguel Beer was set to hit the floor against Meralco in the second game. The lower tiers get an ample fill of fans and my unofficial count puts the audience at about 3,000.

It’s probably getting tougher for fans with vehicles to go visit the games. Regardless of any well-intentioned effort, our Metro traffic has gone from worse to bizarre. Why harass yourself with the weekend traffic when you can watch the games inside your living room or on your bed? You’ve been driving yourself crazy to work all week and all you want is your unmolested fill of sports entertainment.

It’s rather unfortunate given the two games were thrillers. Rain or Shine sprinted to a 25-point lead in the first half, only to see it dissolved by a tireless, though outsized, Barako crew. Paul Lee’s off-balanced and gutsy treys kept the Energy at bay. The game was decided only after two extensions and it was like treating the fans to an extra quarter of action.

Rain or Shine is in the semifinals and awaits the winner of the San Miguel Beer-Meralco series which the Bolts have reduced to a knockout affair. If the Star Hotshots finish off Globalport (which they beat soundly by 53 points last Friday), a great series with a hungry Alaska crew awaits them.

Alaska got rid of Barangay Ginebra on the same day, bucking an early lead by the popular squad. Ginebra has another frustrating conference to be shared with its ever-faithful fans.


It takes a special effort to watch games live nowadays. Ticket prices are not an impediment because they remain affordable and seats offer an unobstructed view of the action. Plus, there’s a giant four-sided scoreboard to help along.

But the real joy of watching “live” is taking in everything simultaneously without having to wait for a TV camera to zoom in: The flows of well-crafted plays, coaches going berserk over missed calls, batteries of assistant coaches dancing the Locomotion when a traveling violation is ignored by the refs and hundreds of fans simply relishing their favorite players in the flesh.

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TAGS: Barako Bull, Basketball, PBA, Rain or Shine

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