Ticket demand for opening day expected to perk up after PBA goes all out for Gilas
A record crowd of close to 52,000 fans witnessed the opening of the PBA season last year at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan. Jerome Ascano

DEMAND for tickets to the PBA's season opener is expected to perk up after the league board's decision to throw its full support behind the Gilas Pilipinas team that will compete in the Olympic wildcard qualifiers in July.

Four days from the start of the 41st season, a check with TicketNet showed that there are still a lot of tickets available from Patron C to general admission for Sunday's opening rites at the Smart Araneta Coliseum that will be capped by a lone game between Star and Rain or Shine.

As it is, the 2015 opening day has a tough act to follow after close to 52,000 fans witnessed last year's season debut at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The Big Dome's capacity is around 23,500.

Worse, calls from some fan groups for a boycott of the opening rites grew loud on social media networks amid the conflict over some PBA players' failure to suit up for Gilas in the last Fiba Asia Championship in Changsha, China.

One longtime Star Hotshots fan, Yuri Munsayac, expressed hope that the full commitment thrown by the PBA board behind the national team in a board meeting on Wednesday has appeased the anger of some supporters.

[See Fajardo, Slaughter among 17 players released as PBA goes all out for Gilas]

"Mukhang na-appease ng kaunti ang galit ng fans, dahil dun sa lost opportunity ng Gilas, isang panalo na lang, Olympics na. So nagalit sila sa di nagpahiram na teams," said Munsayac.

"Sana makatulong nga yun, I think naman, to appease the disapppointment of the fans, dahil may nakita na silang concerete moves ng PBA,' Munsayac added. "Sayang lang kasi, yung move reactionary na eh. Sana ginawa yun before the Fiba Asia."

Former PBA deputy commissioner and grand slam coach Tommy Manotoc believes the league can expect a backlash from the controversies that marred the formation of the last Gilas team.

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"Let's face it, we could have really sent a better team there, not to take anything from the (players) that answered the flag. Honestly, we were three players short of forming a team that can match up well (against China) in the finals," said Manotoc.

Manotoc insisted a golden opportunity to qualify for the Rio Olympics was laid to rest after Gilas finished runner-up to China in the Changsha tournament.

"The PBA's support (to open players like June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Marcio Lassiter and Paul Lee) came in a little bit late. I might even be sarcastic if I say that," he said.

"But again, we wasted an opportunity (to make the Olympics). We could have a bigger chance of qualifying to the Olympics if we prepared more in our own zone. Ang sayang kasi is the Chinese team (we faced) was not yet that mature," he added.

Aside from that, there are other issues surrounding the league right now, Manotoc added.

"I'm sure dun nagagalit ang tao. Other than that, there are also other issues in the league," he said. "Sa totoo lang, the climax of the fans' interest is the finale, people only wait for the playoffs kasi whether we like it or not, there is an imbalance in the league."

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