THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is bringing the 2015 edition of the annual All Stars in Puerto Princesa, Palawan closer to the fans.
Event host NickelAsia is making the event free of charge at the Puerto Princesa Coliseum provided those who want to watch will bring at least five plastic bottles in exchange for tickets.
The act – the first in the history of the league’s mid-season spectacle - is the brainchild of NickelAsia vice president for corporate affairs and former PBA vice chairman JB Baylon.
“We really wanted to make the games free, kaso lang our staff from our two mining companies here in Palawan, the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining and CoralBay Nickel Corporation, decided to encourage the people here to help in saving the environment,” said Baylon.
“So what we did was we coordinated with the Oplan Linis team of the city government of Puerto Princesa. So that means, na-encourage namin ‘yung mga mamamayan na mag-recycle and help in cleaning the tourist city,” he added.
Since making the announcement, thousands of tickets for the weekend festivities have already been distributed to local basketball fans.
Likewise, more than 60,000 empty plastic bottles have already been collected by the group for the tickets to the Rookies versus Sophomores game and the Skills Challenge set Friday, and the centerpiece North versus South game on Sunday.
“Natutuwa nga po kami sa response ng tao dahil instead na magalit sila dahil initially we announced na libre ang tickets, pero mas game pa po sila na pumila with their plastic bottles because they know the true purpose of the project,” said Esan Lauricio, one of the community relations officers of Rio Tuba Nickel Mining.
Meanwhile, all 60 players taking part in the All Star spectacle will have a full schedule ahead.
The delegation will be arriving in Puerto Princesa, one of the country’s major tourism spots, on Wednesday morning via an AirAsia chartered flight.
Immediately, six star players in in James Yap, June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Marc Pingris, Asi Taulava, Kevin Alas, and JC Intal are scheduled to take a private jet to Rio Tuba, a mining town 274.9 kilometers from Puerto Princesa to mingle with cage fans and attend tree-planting activities inside the rehabilitated mined out areas in Rio Tuba and Bataraza towns.
The rest of the contingent is likewise set to hold tree planting activities in other parts of Palawan.
On Thursday, All Star coaches Alex Compton and Leo Austria will hold basketball and coaching clinics for chosen Palawenos. Compton will handle the basketball clinic for some 100 young cagers, while Austria is conducting a classroom coaching training and seminar.
Also part of the community relations push will be tree-planting activities in Brgy. Mangingisda, near the famous Dos Palmas Resort Island, and visits to patients of the Palawan Provincial Hospital.
“We don’t want to say we’re setting the bar higher in terms of hosting a PBA All Star kasi not all sponsors naman are willing to give free tickets to the games,” explained Baylon.
“Pero what we want to instill here is how we can rally people to help in saving our environment. It’s one of the mandates of Rio Tuba and CoralBay Nickel as we promote responsible mining here in Palawan,” he added.
Aside from game related activities, the 12-man league board headed by chairman Patrick Gregorio and Salud will convene in a special meeting to discuss the re-organization of the PBA and formulation of the criteria for the next commissioner.
Media bureau chief Willie Marcial, who has been here since Monday, has already met with local government officials of Puerto Princesa, executives of Rio Tuba Nickel Mining, and representatives from the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Marine to iron out details of security for the whole All-Stars delegation.