The state-of-the-art Philippine Arena, located in the early stretch of the North Luzon Expressway, has been the home of the PBA for the last three seasons. Moreover, in every game day held at the venue, a Barangay Ginebra San Miguel game has been on the marquee.
Despite the stadium being just a few miles away from the head office of NLEX, Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao still believes that the Philippine Arena is still Ginebra’s homecourt.
“Paglabas mo sa NLEX na siyempre, masasabi nating homecourt natin, pero yung Philippine Arena, parang Ginebra pa rin,” said Guiao after their 115-104 win.
It can be remembered that the 54,000-plus crowd that trooped to the venue in Game Seven of the Ginebra-Meralco Governor’s Cup Finals last October had the majority of the Barangay, so Guiao’s claim is truly acceptable.
As of press time, the Gin Kings are taking on the Magnolia Hotshots for their Christmas Clasico encounter, which had drawn 22,531 people.
Still, the seven-time champion coach said that he was relishing his time at the state-of-the-art facility on Christmas Day — his first time to do such as his NLEX Road Warriors took on the new-look GlobalPort Batang Pier. In addition, he made sure that his players came early as only Alex Mallari has played in the facility.
“Sobrang laki, kaya hindi naman kami nakapag-ensayo dito,” said Guiao, who resides in Angeles, Pampanga. “Sabi ko sa mga players, first game naman tayo, agahan nyo ng husto and try to soak in the atmosphere and familiarize yourselves with the environment as much as possible because we did not have the opportunity to practice here and its our first time to play here.
“Malaking bagay yung feel. Pagka hindi ka comfortable, mahihirapan ka talaga.”
And as for the venue itself, Guiao, who shared that the last time he was at this part of Bocaue was already years ago during its’ construction, could not help but marvel at the facility’s amenities and its’ accessibility.
“Convenient lang, maganda ang dadaanan mo, mabilis ang biyahe,” he said.