Philippine Basketball Association executives temper their expectations in their bid to register a record number of spectators in Game 7 of the Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven finals series between Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Bay Area on Sunday at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said he is keeping his expectations low since fans remain reluctant to troop to the venue due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But records show that the league is doing well in gate receipts.
When the league kicked off its 2014 season, it drew a record of 52,612 fans at the Philippine Arena, a P9.4-billion megastructure that can accommodate 55,000 spectators.
Seeing the big turnout, the league returned three years later and staged the last three games of the 2017 Governors’ Cup at the cavernous venue.
In Game 5 of the best-of-seven finals of the season-ending conference between Ginebra and Meralco, the league logged an attendance of 36,445 before the numbers swelled to 53,642 in Game 6 as fans were anticipating a massive Kings celebration.
But Meralco pulled off a victory and sent the series to a decider, prompting a record of 54,086 fans to storm the venue for Game 7.
Still, Marcial doesn’t want to expect.
“I don’t want to expect,” he said.
“It’s just because of the present situation. We’re still in the pandemic and some people were still having apprehensions.”
PBA chairman Ricky Vargas also keeps his expectations in check but remains hopeful that a lot of fans will be able to witness the league’s most popular team defends its turf against an invading squad from Hong Kong.
In Game 6, a crowd of 22,361 showed up at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the biggest since the pandemic or when the 2019-2020 season opened with a crowd of 23,711 during the Leo Awards and the opening of the new season.
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