AFTER a one-year hiatus, the PBA is back with having a game on Christmas Day.
This is the ninth time overall the local pro league is having a December 25 playdate, a tradition which started in 2002 under the term of the late commissioner Jun Bernardino.
But this will only be the third time the Christmas Day playdate is part of the conference playoffs.
The Mall of Asia Arena is also only the third venue to host a PBA Christmas Day game after the Cuneta Astrodome (which hosted the game five times before) and the Smart Araneta Coliseum (thrice).
The very first PBA Christmas Day game should be a memorable one, or shall we say forgettable one, for current San Mig Coffee head coach Tim Cone as it was Game Four of the 2002 All-Filipino Cup best-of-five Finals which Cone’s erstwhile team, Alaska, by a blowout, 78-63, to Coca-Cola (coached by Chot Reyes) which clinched the title at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Which PBA team has been to the most Christmas Day games? Since 2002 when it all began, this is actually only the second time Barangay Ginebra isn’t one of the teams playing. Yes, the Kings have been to the most Christmas Day games, winning six times and losing only once – to Talk ‘N Text 115-104 in 2006.
Barangay Ginebra played in seven straight Christmas Day playdates in the PBA until 2010, when they battled back from a 20-point first quarter deficit to eliminate Alaska 79-70 at the Cuneta Astrodome in Game Two of their best-of-three quarterfinal in the 2010-11 Philippine Cup. (Another forgettable Christmas, coach Tim?)
Cone actually has a 1-3 personal record on Christmas Day games, all previously with the Aces. His only win came in 2007, curiously, against current Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao, who was then with Red Bull which was routed by Alaska 100-77. It was the most lopsided Christmas Day game in the PBA. Christmas Day massacre?
Well, if you think Cone has a bad Christmas Day record, perhaps you’d be surprised to find out Guiao is worse with his 0-3 mark – two losses while with Red Bull in 2004 and 2009 and another while with Burger King in 2009.
The list of previous Christmas Day games are as follows:
2010 2010-11 Philippine Cup quarterfinals Barangay Ginebra 79, Alaska 70 (Cuneta Astrodome)
2009 2009-10 Philippine Cup elims Purefoods 85, Burger King 74 (Cunet Astrodome); Barangay Ginebra 106, Coca-Cola 97
2008 2008-09 Philippine Cup elims Talk 'N Text 109, Air21 108 (Araneta Coliseum); Brgy. Ginebra 63, Rain or Shine 58
2007 2007-08 Philippine Cup elims Red Bull 77, Alaska 100 (Araneta Coliseum); Brgy. Ginebra 100, Purefoods 98
2006 2006-07 Philippine Cup elims SMBeer 108, Air21 104 (Araneta Coliseum); Talk 'N Text 115, Brgy. Ginebra 104
2005 2005-06 Fiesta Conf. elims Brgy. Ginebra 96, Alaska 89 (Cuneta Astrodome)
2004 2004-05 Philippine Cup elims SMBeer 92, Red Bull 78 (Cuneta Astrodome); Brgy. Ginebra 108, Talk ‘N Text 102
2002 All-Filipino Cup Finals (Game Four) Coca-Cola 78, Alaska 63 (Cuneta Astrodome) *
* (title-clinching for Tigers who won 3-1)