Meralco-Ginebra game to open PBA’s 36th season
The Bolts go head on against no less than the league’s most popular ball club in the Barangay Ginebra Kings in the lone opener ushering the 2010-2011 playing calendar on October 3 at the Araneta Coliseum.
The game will see Ryan Gregorio handling a team outside of Purefoods and B-Meg Derby Ace for the first time in a decade and MacMac Cardona suiting up for his first PBA team in the last five years other than Talk ‘N Text.
“The coming season will be going to be a very exciting one," said league chairman Rene Pardo when he appeared in Tuesday’s PSA Forum together with outgoing commissioner Sonny Barrios.
“We want the people to have an initial glimpse of the new team coming in, which is Meralco. And the perfect way for it is to pit them against the league’s crowd drawer, Barangay Ginebra."
The Bolts-Kings tussle caps an opening day ceremony which Pardo referred to as going to be “very nice, and very high-tech."
The entry of Meralco, which took over the Sta. Lucia franchise, is just one of the reasons why Pardo is confident of achieving another banner year, coming in the heels of the success generated during the recently concluded 35th season.
Reverting back to the old reliable three-conference format, a fresh crop of talents, and the other usual activities of the league in and out of the court had Pardo beaming with pride that it can surpass whatever gains made last season.
Unfortunately, however, Barrios will no longer be around by that time as he’s set to be succeeded by Atty. Chito Salud once the PBA Board of Governors held its annual planning session in Hong Kong next week.
“We’re all very enthusiastic about the coming season, although I would have become a PBA fan like you by that time," said Barrios as he formally announced his decision to step down in the weekly session.
“But it was a very rewarding and very fulfilling stint for me. And I thank the Board of Governors for giving me that chance to serve as commissioner. In my three years, including my stint as OIC (Officer In-Charge), we’ve overcome controversies. We have been lucky to form the Philippine team during my term, which was an entirely different experience for me as a commissioner," added Barrios, who, nonetheless, was offered by Pardo to act as adviser to the league he has served for 21 years.
Both Barrios and Pardo proudly revealed the league earned P37 million in gross gate receipts for the Fiesta Cup alone, which Alaska won over San Miguel in six games.
For the entire season, the commissioner said total gross gate receipts from both Manila and provincial games earned P75.3 million, an increase of 6.6 percent from last year which earned P70.7 million.
“Based on those figures alone, we really exceeded our target this season," Barrios added.
And the likelihood of even surpassing the numbers is quite attractive considering that the league decided to adopt again its three conference format.
“We definitely hope that it will be different this season," said Pardo, also B-Meg Derby Ace’s representative to the PBA Board. “Holding three conferences may be going over our budget, but then again, what we noticed is that the crowd usually comes in during the playoffs. So that means, you will have three playoffs in one season alone, meaning you’ll be able to bring in more crowd and sponsors."
Pardo added the Philippine Cup remains as the first official offering of the league for the season, followed by the import-laden Fiesta Cup, and then another import-spiced conference which the PBA has yet to be named.
“The rules about the last conference are not yet final, we’re still discussing it. Although there are suggestions to make it a handicapping conference based on the results of the first two conferences," Pardo said.
The 2010-2011 playing calendar officially begins on Sunday when the PBA holds its annual Rookie Draft at the Market! Market! Place in Taguig.
There will also be the formal launching of the Powerade Tigers team (formerly Coca-Cola) and the Meralco Bolts squad, the 25th anniversary celebration of the Alaska Milk franchise, the NBA Asia Challenge at the Araneta Coliseum, the Gawad Kalinga outreach program and even a fashion show involving PBA players and the Bb. Pilipinas titleholders.
“It’s actually going to be a very busy season for the PBA," said Pardo. – JVP, GMANews.TV