As fans return to live games, expect the level of play to rise in the PBA.
No less than the winningest coach in the league and current Barangay Ginebra San Miguel head deputy Tim Cone made such a remark as the league welcomes back basketball fans into the stands starting Wednesday, December 15, after more than two years.
“I think the level of play will go up,” said Cone. “Doesn’t matter how many fans are in there. It’s gonna go up. Because that’s what we play for!”
The multi-titled coach added that he made such observation after seeing teams from major sporting leagues in the United States play when they welcomed back their own fans after easing COVID-19 restrictions.
“I remember watching the NBA, Major League Baseball, and football (NFL) when they first started coming back to the United States. Their stadiums were like half-full or whatever,” remembered Cone.
“But still, you could see the whole level of play go up to another level from the time in the bubble. And I think you’ll see that,” he added.
Cone shared his excitement for the return of basketball fans during games, especially of Ginebra, who arguably is the league’s most popular team and its legion of fans around the country.
“It’s been a long time! We’re all excited about having fans in the stands,” bared the 63-year-old Cone. “Obviously, for Ginebra, we’re the most excited. But I tell you, every person in the PBA is excited about this.”
After a come-from-behind win over Alaska last Sunday, the multiple grand slam winning coach revealed that their first game in front of the fans will definitely give them a big boost.
“Before the game, I said, ‘Today, we gotta take care of our game ourselves. Next game, we’re gonna have some help from our fans,’” he said.
Ginebra will square off against NorthPort in Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday, December 17, at 6:00 p.m.