TWO former PBA players who both had good memories of Philsports Arena are one in saying the venue formerly called ULTRA needs to be fully refurbished.
While going back to the stadium that once served as home to Asia’s first ever play for pay league is kind of nostalgic for both coaches Jason Webb and Jojo Lastimosa, not lost on both of them is the current woeful physical state of the multi-purpose complex that was first opened to the public in 1985.
“Other than all the good memories, this venue needs to be upgraded,” said Lastimosa, now a deputy coach at NLEX, who played his first five seasons at the ULTRA court while with Purefoods and Alaska.
“Strange but sad as well, it looks the same,” said Webb, the Star Hotshots mentor who used to tag along with his father, former Senator Freddie Webb, when he served as coach of Shell, which he steered to a runner-up finish in the 1985 All-Filipino conference during the team’s rookie season.
“Let’s be honest, this is a place that should have been taken cared of,” added the young Webb. “Sayang lang because it has a lot of memories.”
Lastimosa and Webb’s team both experienced how the once dynamic arena has deteriorated through the years when the Road Warriors played the Hotshots at the Philsports last Sunday in the Smart Bro-Philippine Cup. It was the first of four playdates to be held at the venue over a stretch of one week.
The two shared that nothing has changed in the surroundings from the time it stood as the most popular venue for events in the country during the 80s.
“The locker rooms are still the same na parang banyo lang ‘yung size,” said Lastimosa, referring to the players’ dressing room located just below the playing court.
“So I really think this should be upgraded kung dito tayo maglalaro,” added one of the 25 Greatest Players in league history.
“When you come back here kung ano ‘yung nakita mo dati yun pa rin,” added Webb, a councilor at Paranaque City. “Yun lang, that’s (the sad) situation.”