Brgy. Ginebra aces Japeth Aguilar and Stanley Pringle and San Miguel Beer’s Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter lead a small bunch of players who won’t be unfamiliar with the atmosphere should the prospect of a PBA return before empty seats come to reality.
Aguilar, Pringle, Cabagnot and Lassiter were with the Gilas team of coach Yeng Guiao that came from behind to beat the visiting Qatari squad, 92-81, in a FIBA World Cup qualifying match played behind closed door at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in 2018.
“Na-experience namin yan,” said Guiao, recalling the closed-door game in the aftermath of the Gilas-Australia brawl at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan earlier in that year.
Beau Belga, Paul Lee, Matthew Wright, Ian Sangalang, Poy Erram, Scottie Thompson, Gabe Norwood and Asi Taulava were also with the team that struggled badly in the first half, trailing by 13 at the half before working on a key turnaround to salvage the crucial match.
“It’s kind of surreal. It felt really weird you’re playing in your home country, in the home stadium and there’s nobody cheering for you. I think it affected us,” said Guiao.