INVITATIONAL: PBA PLAYING BEFORE EMPTY SEATS

Manila, August 11, 2003 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran  - Whether itís because of the weather, the economy, the caliber of the foreign guest teams or the combination of all these, the Samsung PBA Invitational Cup has turned out to be a big flop in terms of gate attendance.

The first eight days of the tournament featuring PBA teams Talk n Text, Red Bull Barako, Alaska Milk, FedEx, Coca-Cola and San Miguel Beer and guest teams the Philippine national team, Novi Sad-Yugoslavia, Jilin Yi Qi Tigers of China and Yonsei University of Korea attracted no more than 12,000 paying fans.

The total number of gate receipts was 11,957 to be exact or a poor average of 1,495 per playdate.

Curiously, the pre-tournament proper qualifying games sold more tickets, averaging more than 2,000 per playdate. The teams that figured in the qualifier were Barangay Ginebra, Purefoods, Shell, Sta. Lucia Realty and Alaska Milk.

The All-Filipino Cup which concluded with Talk n Text winning the championship over Coca-Cola sold an average of more than 5,000 tickets.

But the Invitational seemed deemed to fail from the start with league officials opting to get lowly squads as guest features. Among the teams whose applications were turned down were Fil-Am squads supposed to be reinforced by NBA veterans and coached by former Talk n Text mentor Billl Bayno and ex-NBA star Darryl Dawkins.

Apparently, league officials thought the local squads would not fare well against the Fil-Ams.

But the reverse happened with the patsies from Yugoslavia, China and South Korea being manhandled by the PBA squads.

Jilin Yi Qi lost all its four games with an average losing margin of 22.25 points. The Chinese, though bannered by long-time China national team mainstay Sun Jun, suffered an 82-97 blowout by the Aces, a 91-114 rout by the RP team, a 114-98 spanking by the Beermen and a 63-98 thrashing by the Tigers.

Yonsei lost to Red Bull, 96-106, to Talk n Text, 112-121, and FedEx, 90-93, while Novi Sad bowed to FedEx, 81-98, Talk n Text, 89-110, and Red Bull Barako, 93-103.

Yonsei and Novi Sad were playing at presstime. The winner of the game would be the lone foreign guest team to chalk up a win in the tourney.

But outside the lopsided matches, several other things did affect the turnstile, including the Makati mutiny last July 27, a number of typhoons and the Senate report recommending the summary deportation off alleged Fil-shams Asi Taulava, Jon ordonio, Rudy Hatfield, Davonn Harp and Andy Seigle.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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