After the Los Angeles Lakers took a 2 -0 lead over Miami Heat in the ongoing NBA Finals and with Heat starters Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic not suiting up for Game 3, I was ready to say Miami’s bubble was about to burst.
But the Heat, even without the two stars, shocked everyone by riding on Jimmy Butler’s all-around, game-long brilliance, scoring 40 points for a surprisingly easy victory. Unfortunately for me, I did not put a bet on that game.
However, for Game 4, I had a feeling, LeBron James and company would again come back and come back they did against a fighting Heat squad, making it now 3-1 and just needing one more win to wrap up the series.
Now I can say without a doubt whatsoever that the Lakers will beat the Heat, either in Game 5 or Game 6. And when that happens, LeBron will again come closer to his dream of being acknowledged as the Greatest Of All Time, an honor that basketball fans all over the world have already given to Michael Jordan. But then that debate will call for another separate piece by itself.
The NBA bubble, too, will be gone and right on its heels, another basketball bubble begins, this time right here in our shores as the PBA opens its own, following the NBA model, but of course subject to the league’s own financial limitations and capabilities.
I remember that prior to the start of the 2020 PBA, the league admitted its concerns regarding the dwindling gate attendance receipts, though it said advertising revenues still showed an increase and that its online marketing shows so much potential.
Then, the pandemic struck and definitely, it had a major impact on the financial situation of the league, something the PBA brass hopes to recover from.
Truth is, I sent a message to PBA commissioner Willie Marcial to ask him what would be his biggest concerns about this conference. But for whatever reason, maybe the number I used was wrong, I did not get a reply, so I will come up with my own opinion on the matter.
For one, there will still be no gate attendance receipts as the games at Angeles University start this Sunday, with a double header between TNT and Alaska, followed by Ginebra going up against NLEX. All succeeding games will be closed to the public.
This leaves the telecast of the games and whatever online advertising revenues the PBA will realize as revenue sources.
I read, too, that in the NBA, the online viewership of the championship series fell short of the league’s expectations. Maybe, if it was Boston-Los Angeles in the finals, fan interest will be much higher because of the traditional rivalry between these two iconic NBA teams.
The health of all the participating players, officials, referees, media and other support personnel will always be a concern and I hope no Donald Trump-like incident happens that some in the PBA bubble test positive. I do not think mental health though will be a problem among the players.
The level of play by the teams, particularly at the start, may raise some eyebrows, but then considering the long layoff by all the players from regular team practices and scrimmages due to the lockdown, I can only expect that quality of play will not be at a high level at the start, but should pick up as games are played daily.
How the PBA fans will respond to the league’s bubble reopening, particularly on social media, will only be known as the games progress.
I believe San Miguel Beer with its intact lineup remains the top contender, with sister team Ginebra San Miguel, up there with them in the seedings.
Outside of these two, the other teams will be generally competitive among themselves, except maybe for a couple of teams like Alaska for one as it is still rebuilding.
There will be missing players, too, like Greg Slaughter, who opted out of Ginebra; TNT’s Kelly Williams, who suddenly retired; Larry Fonacier and Cyrus Baguio; and even a head coach in Louie Alas of Phoenix, who had a falling out with management and some rookies, too. I hope, too, that a reformed Calvin Abueva finally gets permission to see action.
I do wish the PBA the best upon its return to the hardcourt. After all, basketball remains the number one sport in the country.