PBA commissioner Willie Marcial

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said he was surprised with the turnout of the first set of games before a live crowd even as the league prepares for any eventualities following the first recorded cases of the Omicron variant in the country.

Marcial was pleased that expectations were exceeded Wednesday, Dec. 15 as a good-sized crowd which was allowed entry under the required capacity of about 3,000 to 4,000 attended the first playdate at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in almost two years.

“Nakakatuwa kung gaano sila kasabik at ganun din tayo kasabik na may fans kaya masarap,” Marcial told reporters after Magnolia Pambansang Manok’s 114-87 win over Terrafirma.

“Hindi ko aakalain na ganito kadami kaagad kasi siyempre natatakot pa sa COVID at siyempre magbabayad ka pa at gagastos ka pero nagrespond yung mga fans kaya nakakatuwa,” he added.

The limited audience didn’t prevent them from cheering their hearts out through the Magnolia-Terrafirma match and the TNT-NLEX nightcap, something that was missing when the league staged closed-door games since the pandemic began.

Calvin Abueva’s buzzer-beater from halfcourt to end the second quarter highlighted the cheers that were heard since the last PBA staging at the same venue in March 2020.

“Maririnig mo yung ingay, yung kantyawan, yung pinapagalitan mga referees, yung hirap natin ito yung resulta,” the PBA commissioner said.

But the PBA’s return to one of its old stomping grounds came on the same day two imported Omicron cases, known to spread quickly compared to other variants, were recorded courtesy of two travelers from Japan and Nigeria.

Marcial acknowledged that the latest development could cause a setback for the league, especially with plans to hold games on Christmas around the corner.

He added that a decision on how the games can continue or other postponed will be made in conjunction with the government guidelines.

“Kailangan pa rin natin mag-ingat,” said Marcial. “Pag dumating ang panahon na yun, kung ano ang utos sa atin ng gobyerno. Kung tigil, tigil tayo. Kung semi-bubble, bubble-type. Nakahanda tayo kung papayagan tayo.

“Problema lang pag pinatigil tayo, tigil tayo. Pero hangga’t pinapayagan tayo at kung ano ang pwede nating gawin, gagawin natin.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/12/15/pba-chief-glad-with-decent-crowd-turnout/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pba-chief-glad-with-decent-crowd-turnout)