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Guiao concedes: Philippine Arena is Ginebra's turf

NLEX coach Yeng Guiao can now attest how Ginebra can bring at least 22,000 people to the Philippine Arena, which is supposedly his team's "territory". Mike Romero (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

BOCAUE--It may be situated along NLEX, but for Coach Yeng Guiao, the Philippine Arena is Ginebra's "homecourt".

"Homecourt namin ang NLEX, pero ang Philippine Arena, parang Ginebra pa rin," Guiao told some reporters on Monday night.

He jokingly added, "Yung laro, di naman sa kalye ginagawa. Dito sa loob ginagawa yung game."

But for the former vice governor of Pampanga, whose native province can easily be accessed through NLEX and SCTEX, he is thankful that the said venue--as well as the Philippine Sports Stadium--is strategically placed in the said expressway with an entry and exit point, which will likely be converted into a full interchange over the next years in time for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

"Convenient [siya]. Maganda ang dadaanan mo. Mabilis ang biyahe," continued Guiao.

Still, he insisted, "Pagdating mo sa loob, fans pa rin ng Ginebra ang nandoon."

In spite of it, Guiao relished the Road Warriors' first game inside the 50,000-seater.

"Sinabi ko sa mga players, 'First game naman tayo, [so] agahan niyo nang husto and try to soak in the atmosphere or familiarize yourselves with the environment as much as possible because it's our first time here," he further said.

"Sobrang laki [nito]," he described the venue.

Both the Road Warriors and the Barangay played on Christmas night, hacking out separate victories in front of 22,531 people.

Although a far cry from the 54,086 that trooped to the venue on Oct. 27 for Game 7 of the PBA Governors' Cup Finals--and as well as last year's PBA Philippine Cup Christmas Day games, where about 23,000 came--it is still considered sizable for a Christmas Day crowd.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno