THE PBA is set to reprise in the same arena the historic game that attracted the biggest crowd in its 43-year history.
The first Philippine Cup meeting between Barangay Ginebra and Meralco takes place on February 18 at the Philippine Arena, where just three months ago, the two ballclubs tangled in a memorable finals that went the distance.
The deciding Game 7 of the title series set a league attendance record of 54,086 fans who witnessed the Kings retain their Governors Cup crown behind a 101-96 victory over the Bolts.
Soon after that box-office record, the PBA board didn’t think twice in scheduling the very first meeting between the two teams in the same playing venue in Bocaue, Bulacan.
“Naikasa na agad ng board 'yan even before the season started. Titingnan lang if both teams can attract the crowd even if it is just an elimination game,” said officer-in-charge Willie Marcial.
The league re-set its attendance record in each of the last three straight games of the Ginebra-Meralco finals.
The cavernous venue was filled with 36,445 screaming fans for Game Five, which the Kings won, 85-74, to set the stage for a probable Ginebra party in their next encounter.
But the Bolts overcame the tremendous pressure and delivered a 98-91 win in front of 53,642 people to forge a winner-take-all match for the final championship of the season.
In the last three games that Ginebra and Meralco played, average crowd attendance was at 48,057.
No wonder, Ginebra coach Tim Cone considered last season’s finals as one of the most memorable of his brilliant career.
“The biggest thrill of my career, maybe my life, was coaching in front of 54,000 people in that Game Seven,” he said. “I bragged about it to anybody who wants to listen to me. I’m really pleased with it.”