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Great stage in PBA crowd acceptance

/ 04:01 AM January 08, 2020

When was the last time they had a title rivalry of this gripping sort in the Philippine Basketball Association?

There’s a great rush to put an apt tag to the Ginebra-Meralco best-of-7 war in the PBA Governors’ Cup.

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PBA commissioner Willie Marcial swears this one will be for the fans.

Yes, but there’s no denying the biggest beneficiary of this competition, set to fire off on Tuesday, is the PBA itself.

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It’s just the third title showdown between the two mighty clubs.

Ginebra, as can be expected, is favored having won the first two crown encounters.

“I think Meralco is really the underdog, we haven’t been really a rival to them,” said Meralco board representative Al Panlilio.

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Truth is if Meralco, for example, took Game 1, it should brightly fuel the rivalry.

“They’ve increased their size, but we’re a little different, too,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone. “Norman’s system hasn’t changed that much. I know what he wants to do.”

It might take a total of seven games to determine who between Cone and Black has polished or perfected a better system.

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Regarding crowd acceptance, the PBA has tried several innovations, come-ons, to reignite the PBA appeal to the crowd. Marketing was pushed to the limit.

There actually was a big dip in attendance following the knee-jerk move to bring in Fil-Ams to add color and flavor to PBA games. This came following the formation of the now-defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association.

There followed deeper and crippling disinterest with the rush-rush expansion of the number of clubs. This clearly resulted with the pro league, once revered as exclusive and classy, also littered with assorted clowns, stray hooligans.

The common call from street fans was against the inability to recognize, if not identify, with many ill-equipped players.

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There’s no clear road map on how the PBA suddenly managed to arrange this highly accepted rivalry. You could feel the clamor and demand in the original fiery corners that used to rise and ring with old tribal team chants.

This could be the turning point in the PBA’s desperate bid to reconnect with the masses.

A major competition anchored on corporate rivalry, between San Miguel Corp. and the MVP Group of Co., has definitely refueled interest.

The next tough test, if the PBA has indeed reinvented itself, is how to sustain interest, keep competition a relevant, respectable national theater. INQ

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TAGS: Basketball, Ginebra-Meralco, PBA governors’ cup
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