No traffic problem for out-of-town games
DIGOS, DAVAO DEL SUR —It’s never easy, given the amount of manpower and logistics involved, but the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) definitely gets enormous dividends when it stages far-off games in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Take for instance the league’s recent foray into one of its regular stomping grounds, the Davao Del Sur Coliseum, in this progressive Mindanao capital. This is mango, lansones and pomelo country as evidenced by numerous small stalls in the nearly two-hour trip from Davao City. Digos is still unable to host the league, its teams and media partners at length because of the absence of adequate accommodations.
However, this hasn’t prevented the league from holding games, including a segment of last year’s All-Star Games. There’s a cooperative local government and an enthusiastic collection of fans that are eager for basketball action. The crowd filled up the venue with an estimated 6,000 people.
Understandably, Ginebra is always a top choice for an out-of-town game because of its deep-rooted connection with its fans. But San Miguel, Magnolia, TNT Ka Tropa and Alaska have their own legions that come to the games to see their court heroes.
And Ginebra did not fail its faithful in Digos. With hometown hero Scottie Thompson (who relayed to this reporter that he has a residence five minutes away from the venue) unleashing a performance of 16 points, 11 rebounds (with each rebound being cheered for) and six assists, the Barangay romped over a struggling Blackwater Elite, 85-67.
The Elite have now lost five of their six games.
Interestingly, the Digos crowd wanted to see Mark Caguioa play, just to make that link between the past and present. With the game very much under Ginebra’s command, the crowd began to chant Caguioa’s name in the usual three syllable rhythm they shout out: “Gi-neb-ra! Gi-neb-ra!”
Later on, a tweet from Ginebra coach Tim Cone revealed that Caguioa has been nursing an injury and was not fielded. One immediately sensed that even without the tweet that there was already an understanding between player and coach.
There are definite struggles nowadays to fill up PBA game venues in Metro Manila given the traffic snarls everywhere at unpredictable times of the day. And yet the PBA lives on, doing the right thing by bringing choice games to the provinces where traffic is never an excuse to find sports action.
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