Limpag: Basketball is alive, but not the PBA

Fair play

During the first ever boxing match I watched as a budding reporter close to two decades ago, I asked the veteran reporters what those guys shouting “Dies-syete” were doing and got a compact lesson on the art of “Kristos,” in sporting arenas.

I always thought of that scene every time I see these guys in the Mayor Inocentes Cabaron Invitational Inter-town tournament, where 12 towns are participating.

Inter-town tournaments like the Cabaron Cup usually pack a crowd and last month’s Gullas Cup finals between Talisay and Minglanilla had crowds that now only occur in the wet dreams of PBA officials.

Basketball is very much alive in our country, but not the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association), a sad turn for Asia’s first professional league that for a while was the biggest thing in Philippine basketball.

Now, inter-town crowds are bigger and livelier than the pro league, and the league’s answer to its lack of crowd has been cosmetic so far, transferring to smaller venues so the absence of a crowd won’t be that glaring on TV.

As if people still watch the league on TV.

The league got to be the biggest thing in Philippine basketball because of its setup—corporations backing teams—but curiously, it’s the same setup that has become its downfall.

And it’s not that Pinoy fans are getting tired of a pro league, just check the budding MPBL of Manny Pacquiao, a community-based pro league that regularly fills its venues.

If it wants to stay relevant in the basketball scene, the PBA should rethink its model.

It should think outside the box and try to regain the fanbase it has lost because of questionable boardroom decisions and a predictable competition that only sees the same old teams making the finals.

Provided, of course, that the league wants to change.

I have a feeling that since despite the lack of a crowd, the corporate backers will still continue to shell out money for teams that no longer have a fanbase, the league is content and confident that it will still be alive.

Alive but no longer relevant.


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