Alarming trend? Christmas Day games draw lowest PBA attendance at Philippine Arena
A lot of empty seats at the Philippine Arena for the PBA Christmas Day game. Jerome Ascano

BOCAUE - The long weekend and holiday break factored into the ‘modest’ crowd attendance during the Christmas Day doubleheader of the PBA Philippine Cup here.

Official attendance for Monday’s holiday doubleheader pitting Ginebra against Magnolia and NLEX against GlobalPort was pegged at 22,531 - the smallest to watch a PBA game at the Philippine Arena.

Attendance was well smaller than the crowds which showed up for the Christmas Day games last year in the same playing venue pitting the same teams in the featured game, which the Kings won, 86-79.

No official attendance was announced then, although the crowd was estimated to be at 23,000 to 25,000.

The holiday twinbill was the first to be played in the world’s largest indoor arena since a record crowd of more than 54,000 watched the deciding Game 7 of the Governors Cup Finals between Ginebra and Meralco last October 27. The Kings beat the Bolts, 101-96, for the championship.

League external affairs and communications head Willie Marcial said the long weekend obviously had an effect on the attendance of the league’s 14th Christmas Day special.

“Friday kasi bakasyon na until tomorrow (Dec. 26), which was declared a special holiday. So karamihan talaga ang balik na sa January 2,” said Marcial, the incoming league officer in charge.

Just last December 18, the PBA season opener at the Smart Araneta Coliseum drew only 5,600 fans - the lowest for a season opener in league history.

During the Christmas Day schedule in 2015, the Ginebra-Star match-up attracted 22,000 people at the Mall of Asia Arena as the Kings scored a thrilling 92-89 win in overtime behind the game-winning, buzzer-beating three-pointer by LA Tenorio. 

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