A season-high 18,696 fans turned up at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum last Sunday to witness Game Four of the Commissioner’s Cup finals, and PBA commissioner Chito Salud couldn’t be more thrilled.
“I am happy for our fans that they are enjoying the games yet again. They deserve it,” he said in a text message to InterAKTV on Monday.
The championship series between the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters and the B-MEG Llamados have been marked by much fan anticipation. The first three games of the series drew an average of more than 13,000 fans — a staggering number considering they were played on weeknights, which usually translated to smaller attendance figures — and topics related to the finals often became trending topics on Twitter, meaning social media-savvy viewers are tuned in to the action.
Salud gave most of the credit to the players for the success of the series.
“I am happy for our players that they are embracing the simple formula of playing hard all the time, improving their craft continuously and being a role model on and off the court,” he said. “The fans are responding and our players have to be commended.”
PBA legend Alvin Patrimonio, who currently serves as team manager of B-MEG, is no stranger to packed houses, and said that the fans are responding to the quality of the games.
“Nandiyan na kasi yung parity ngayon, kaya mas exciting yung games,” he said, adding that the presence of fans also affects the players on the court.
“Siyempre, mas gaganahan ka. Meron kang mga hecklers, gusto mong i-shut up sila. Tapos meron kang mga supporters, syempre meron kang gustong patunayan.”
After B-MEG’s Game Three victory, veteran coach Tim Cone noted the excitement of playing before such a large crowd.
“I can’t believe the crowd, every time James [Yap] makes a three, they’re in pandemonium. I’m still not used to it,” he said.
Llamados gunner James Yap, one of the league’s most popular active players, said they are grateful for the effort shown by fans.
“Sobrang thankful kami na nandiyan sila, nagbibigay ng support,” he said.
Yap noted that the exciting nature of the first three games of the series probably contributed to the soaring interest in Game Four, leading to the record numbers at the gate.
“Dikitan kasi yung mga games, except nung Game Four, medyo naunahan kami. Sa excitement, halos atakihin na yung mga fans, ‘di ba?”
Salud added that the league continues to put fans front and center in its priorities.
“I am happy for the team owners and officials and the PBA staff. Their support for the principle that public and fan interest is paramount is paying dividends in more ways than one. I truly believe that for PBA, the best is yet to come if we remain committed to doing what’s right for the fans,” he said. – with a report from Reynaldo Belen
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