A total of 23, 711 fans flocked to the Philippine Arena in Bocuae, Bulacan for the 44th Philippine Basketball Association season opener, which also coincided with the Season 43 Leo Awards Night.
The high gate attendance was a welcome development for the league, especially coming off a lowly PHP 160-million total for gate receipts for 2017-18.
Other than the blockbuster match-up between crowd darlings Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and new-look TNT Katropa, fans also flocked to the season-opener for the traditional parade of teams led by their respective muses.
Not to be left behind were 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach for Ginebra; 2016 Miss International Kylie Verzosa for San Miguel; Mutya ng Pilipinas Tourism International 2018 Aya Fernandez for Northport; Miss Philippines Grand International 2018 Eva Patalinjug for Meralco; and Mutya ng Pilipinas 2018 Anie Uson for Rain or Shine.
Also in the fold were actresses Yam Concepcion for Phoenix, Klea Pineda for Alaska, Sam Pinto for TNT, and Kelley Day for Columbian.
Alyssa Valdez for NLEX, together with Myla Pablo and Jasmine Alkhaldi, represented the Filipina athlete.
Moreoever, the fans also anticipated the awarding of last season’s best players, as the PBA held the end-of-season awards for the first time on the same date with the season opener.
The already-magnificent 44th PBA opener saw some added spice with the surprise appearance of legendary Pinoy band Parokya ni Edgar, who treated the fans to a mini-concert just before the ongoing-game between the Gin Kings and the KaTropa.
“Masaya at nakakataba ng puso. Yung opening natin, talagang masaya. Wala akong masabi,” said Commissioner Willie Marcial.
“Makaka-experience talaga kayo ng iba kapag nanood kayo ng live, kaya iniimbitahan ko ang mga fans na manood ng PBA, live.”
Aside from the huge gate attendance in the season opener, the PBA was also all over social media, with topics on Fajardo, PBA official hashtag #PBALabanKungLaban, Sharon Cuneta, Parokya ni Edgar, Chito Miranda, and Pia Wurtzbach being some of the top trends in the country.