GREG Slaughter refused to be alarmed by the sparse crowd that watched the charity game between Barangay Ginebra and Team Grand Slam on Friday night at the Astrodome.
The 12,000-seat venue in Pasay was hardly crowded, with only the patron and lower box seats mostly occupied and the general admission section almost empty - unusual for a game featuring past and present stars of teams Ginebra, Purefoods, and Alaska.
“It wasn’t fully crowded, but they were still loud especially toward the end with the pretty exciting game,” Slaughter said as his team survived Team Grand Slam, 113-112.
“The crowd was amazing,” he added. “I’m just really thankful they came out here and I hope they continue to come to the games.”
The game was held barely two weeks before the 41st season of the PBA fires off at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with Star taking on Rain or Shine in the lone game that marks the first time Ginebra won’t be playing in the opener.
The Kings had been part of the league’s opener for the last four years, with the 2010 season the last time the PBA welcomed its new playing calendar without Ginebra in the opening game which saw Purefoods winning over Burger King.
The pro league is also coming off a season in which no less than former commissioner and now president Chito Salud admitted a dip in both the PBA’s gate receipts and attendance.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone was just as surprised the fans cheered for the legends louder than they did for the current league superstars.
“I thought they came to see Mark (Caguioa) and Jayjay (Helterbrand) and Greg and Japeth (Aguilar). I thought they came to see the young guys, but no, they came to see the old guys,” he said.
“When those guys team on the floor, the crowd went crazy and when Allan (Caidic) hits those shots, they went crazy.”