A CROWD numbering 23,436 that showed up for Game Three of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals between Barangay Ginebra and Alaska Milk is the biggest to watch a basketball game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It also stands as likely the third biggest to watch a sports event at the historic Big Dome, next only to two epic fights that are part of sports history.
Upon a review of the company's archives, officer-in-charge Atty. Allan Gabor told Spin.ph that Sunday night’s game may rank next only to Muhammad Ali's 'Thrilla in Manila' fight with Joe Frazier in 1975 and Gabriel 'Flash' Elorde's world title fight against Harold Gomes in 1960 in terms of attendance.
“(Game Three) ang pinakalamaking attendance sa isang basketball game. We're pretty sure of that,” said Gabor.
Gabor, a lawyer, bared that Elorde's fight with Gomes for the world junior lightweight title that served as the first event to be held at the Big Dome on March 16, 1960 stands as the best-attended event in the historic venue.
The bout, he said, attracted more than 36,000 fans to the Araneta Coliseum, which at that time was the biggest domed arena in the world.
The second largest crowd at the Big Dome, pegged at more than 28,000, saw Ali beat 'Smokin' Joe Frazier on October 1, 1975 in a bout that ranks among the greatest in boxing history.
Gabor, however, explained that crowds for basketball and boxing matches cannot be directly compared to each other because of the different set-ups.
“You cannot compare them apples to apples. Kasi sa boxing naglalagay ng upuan sa floor, unlike sa basketball na talagang bakante yung buong court,” said Gabor.
Gabor added the Big Dome expanded its seating capacity when it underwent a renovation in 1999.
Meanwhile, PBA media bureau chief Willy Marcial said the Game Three crowd could have been bigger had the coliseum opened the gates for hundreds of people still lined up outside minutes after game time.
“Andami pang mga nakapila sa labas. Hindi nakapasok kasi hindi na lang pinilit ng Araneta kasi masa-sacrifice na 'yung safety ng tao sa loob. And we understand that,” said Marcial.
“Ang tindi ng pila kahapon. Sa Red Gate pa lang umabot nay yun ng Shoemart. Umikot pa sa KFC at Farmers yung pila na yon ha,” said Marcial.
“Yung pila naman sa Green Gate, halos inikot yung buong Araneta sa haba.”
Even though the numbers have yet to come in, Marcial believes the just-concluded conference will go down as the most successful ever in the history of the league in terms of gate receipts.
Ginebra’s last three games against Talk 'N Text in the semifinals alone recorded a total 59,029 spectators.
As for the Finals series, Game One tallied 19,678 fans, Game Two had 17,856 and Game Three 23, 436.