HUNDREDS of disgruntled fans who were denied entry and the proliferation of fake tickets marred the face-off of two Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) teams during a match at the Xavier University gymnasium in Cagayan de Oro City Saturday afternoon.
Some of the PBA aficionados from the neighboring towns and cities, who failed to see the match live because they were not allowed to enter the venue, wanted a refund of their tickets.
Gerry Acenas, 38, is just one of the 300 basketball fanatics who waited outside the gym hoping to get in.
Acenas came all the way from Lanao del Norte with his entire family to watch the basketball match between the Meralco Bolts and San Miguel Beermen at 4 p.m. Saturday.
"We came all the way from Iligan City but when we got to the venue, we were barred from entering since the gym was already full," Acenas told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro on Saturday.
Marites Conde, 45, of Barangay Macasandig, was disappointed on the turnout of events.
“Why was there excess of tickets sold outside when the gym only has a capacity of 5,000? What was worse was there were those still selling tickets when it was supposed to be sold out," she told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.
According to Jocylyn Apa-ap, one of the security personnel at the gym’s entrance, the gymnasium was already packed around 3 p.m. so they were ordered to close the gate.
"The gym’s lower side was filled first, many of those holding the P600 - P1,000 tickets could not get in. It was so crowded, some were standing, and others could not get in,” she said.
Later, the gym was totally closed, and those who were not able to enter the gym were infuriated. There were fans who went wild and pushed the entrance gate just to get in.
“The crowd became unruly as they pushed their way to the main gate. We had bruises and scratches from the pushing and shoving,” Apa-ap said.
Apa-ap added that they were not able to scrutinize some tickets because the crowd became rowdy.
"There were those with fake tickets who got inside since we could no longer control the mass of people coming in," she said.
According to Apa-ap, one of the organizers refunded those who were not able to enter the gym.
However, upon scanning the tickets, they found out some were dubious. These were not returned to the owners.
“I-uli na lang unta nila ang tickets kay didto ‘mi magpa-refund sa among gipalitan,” one of the fans who bought a suspected fake ticket said.
Organizers from the City Government of Cagayan de Oro are urging those who have bought the tickets but were not able to watch the game to get their refund.
"The mayor [Oscar Moreno] has ordered that the tickets be refunded sa mga wala kasulod," said Maricel Rivera, city information officer.
She said they considered the safety of everyone in the gym first before letting several people get in even if it is already full.
"The organizers decided to close the gates to prevent a possible stampede and protect people from getting seriously injured especially when the crowd outside [the gym] started becoming restless. They were already pushing one another toward the gates. Delikado na although all the emergency response units were already in place," Rivera told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro in a text message.
Some fans resorted to watch the match outside the gym using their mobile phones.
With regard to the fake tickets, Rivera said they still do not know who were behind this scheme.
Organizers have announced that the giving of refund will resume at the Park Cafe in Divisioria, at 2 p.m. June 10.