NO matter how the third installment of the Ginebra-Meralco finals series in the PBA Governors Cup pans out, the duel already has a special niche in Philippine sporting books.
The last time the protagonists met in a similar championship matchup, during the 2017 edition of the same season-ending tourney, a crowd of 54,086 paying fans witnessed the deciding Game 7 which the Kings won.
That number, the largest to watch a single sporting event in the country, is sure to stand the test of time, notwithstanding the last two games of this current series also set at the same cavernous arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Commissioner Willie Marcial thinks so, even if the series goes the full seven-game route.
“Tingin ko mahihirapan ng matapatan o mabura iyung record na iyon dahil sa maraming factors,” Marcial told Malaya-Business Insight.
“Nandiyan iyung economics at iyung nagbabagong viewing habits ng mga fans, pero mostly economics,” he added.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone agreed, pointing out the fans have spent much of their resources on the recent Christmas holidays.
“That would be nice if we did (set a new record), but it would be hard to do,” said Cone.
“We’re pretty much at maximum in 2017. There’s a lot of contributing factors now.”
The league is benefiting from one of those, enjoying a big success in television ratings as well as on its online platforms.
According to the league, the deciding Game 7 of the Philippine Cup finals between eventual champion San Miguel Beer and Magnolia was watched by 260,000 on an average 57 minutes on Facebook Live and garnered over 5.6 million online viewers.
That could hold true for these finals.
During the Philippine Cup finals won by San Miguel over Magnolia, Game 7, according to the league, had 260,000 viewers on Facebook Live and watched an average of 57 minutes.
The same game reached 5.6 million viewers online.
“Modern technology na ngayon kaya iyung karamihan ng ibang fans gugustuhin na sa mga TV, internet cafes o bahay na lang manood,” offered Marcial.
A more modest goal of having 30,000 fans come to the Philippine Arena for a single game is more realistic, according to Marcial.
“Siguro ‘yung mga trenta mil, kaya. Pero sa Game 6 lang iyon dahil Linggo iyon,” said Marcial, referring to the match set Jan. 19.
“Pag nag-Game 7 mahihirapan na dahil Miyerkules (Jan. 22) iyon at iiwasan na ng mga tao iyung traffic papunta at pauwi,” added Marcial.
The Smart Araneta Coliseum is the finals venue for Games 1, 3 and 4. The Quezon Convention Center in Lucena hosts Game 2 on Friday and the Mall of Asia Arena takes its turn on Jan. 17.
“Nag-decide lang kami na ilaro pa rin iyung games sa malalaking venues para magkaroon ng tsansa iyung mga gustong manood,” explained Marcial. “Pero walang expectations ng bagong record.”