|In the PBA's last visit to the Philippine Arena, Japeth Aguilar exploded. (file photo)|
By Ivan Saldajeno
BIÑAN--With Meralco taking Game 3 of the PBA Governors' Cup Finals, a championship game at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue was assured.
But with the team even stealing Game 4 from Ginebra, the finals series will now be decided at the said venue as a mock best-of-three ensues with all the games happening at the 50,000-seat venue.
For Ginebra import Justin Brownlee, playing in front of the said number of PBA fans, assuming the arena will be jampacked, would be a first for him.
"It's gonna be very special," said Brownlee. "It's gonna be a dream come true to play in front of that many people."
With the championship series starting in Lucena last week, it would mean that the Bolts-Barangay series will have three non-Mega Manila games and could possibly be four if the series goes to a Game 7.
For Brownlee, it is beneficial for both the league and the fans.
"Going out-of-town to the fans outside Metro Manila is great for the country because this country loves basketball. It's gonna be incredible," said the Ginebra import.
Meralco's Ranidel De Ocampo, in a separate interview, agreed
"OK yun," De Ocampo simply said.
But aware that his club is not as big in terms of fanbase as Ginebra, he thought that there is only one way to fill the Philippine Arena in a finals game.
"Mapupuno mo lang yun pag Ginebra ang maglalaro," continued De Ocampo, who will be relegated to a spectator come Games 5 and 6 and possibly Game 7 with a season-ending calf injury. "Maganda na nandoon din ang Ginebra."
Fifty-two thousand six hundred and twelve people packed the Bocaue venue in the opening night of the 2015 season, which actually had the Barangay taking on the TNT KaTropa in the second game of the scheduled doubleheader there.
The PBA returned to the Philippine Arena last Christmas in a twinbill that also featured a Ginebra game, this time against Star in a rare "Manila Clasico" out-of-town match. While the venue was only half-occupied, it was still enough to set a record attendance for the soon-to-conclude 2017 season.
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