ALFRANCIS Chua believes the renewed interest in Ginebra in the coming 39th season of the PBA may possibly result in the league surpassing all-time attendance records established just last summer.
The arrival of rookie big man Greg Slaughter and astute offseason moves have convinced Chua that banner crowds are to be expected this season starting with the season opener pitting the Kings against San Mig Coffee Mixers at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.
“I think kayang maabot `yun. Ngayon pa lamang we can already feel the interest of the fans,” acknowledged Chua, very much aware of the increasing demand for tickets from fans in the season-opening Philippine Cup.
“Kaya nga lagi kong sinasabihan ang players namin na hindi sapat na sikat ang Ginebra para dayuhin tayo ng fans. Kailangang ipakita nila `yung ginawa namin dati na kahit pilay nanalo against tough teams,” he stressed.
“Yun ang naging secret kaya nag-register ng maraming fans na nanood `yung game namin against Alaska when I was still coaching.”
Chua of course, was referring to the record crowd of 23,436 that witnessed Game Three of the Commissioner’s Cup Finals between the injury-plagued Kings and the Aces, who went on to complete a three-game sweep of the title series.
The Filipinos’ love for the underdogs is what made Ginebra the most popular team in the country, according to Chua.
“Players ang gagawa niyan. Kita mo umabot ng 23,000 'yun. Kasi when I was coaching them, kahit kulang-kulang kami, tough teams like Rain or Shine (quarterfinals) at Talk `N Text (semis) ang tinalo namin,” said the outspoken mentor.
Chua also said it was good seeing the new players and holdovers get along right away, which he believes would help develop the Kings into one cohesive unit quickly than expected.
Slaughter and fellow rookies James Forrester including reserves Alvin Padilla and Jens Knuttel, joined the Kings in a recent team-building session in Subic.
“Magandang pagkakaton yun. Nag-overnight kami. More on get together, especially beneficial `yun sa mga baguhan kasi nakilala nila `yung mga veterans (ng team),” added the team manager.
“Mainam rin na nagkakilala sila, lalo naging close ang isa’t isa,” said Chua.