MANILA, OCTOBER 4, 2011 (PBA) PBA commissioner Chito Salud reiterated his call on the ballclubs to strictly abide by the league’s salary cap rule for the higher purpose of levelling the playing field and best serving the interest of the fans.

Salud again made called on the teams before thousands of fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and thousands more glued on television during the opening of the 37th PBA season Sunday.

Stressing fans’ interest is paramount for the league, Salud also promised to bring exciting PBA games closer to the people through modern equipment and modern technology.

“We’ll bring the games to the doorsteps of our fans. We’ll visit far-flung areas of the country and foreign countries where there are heavy concentrations of Filipinos workers. We’ll bring them joy and excitement,” said Salud in addressing the fans during the inaugural rites.

Excitement, glitz and glamour were provided in the opening ceremonies ushering in the new PBA season.

The league paid tribute to world-class Filipino athletes and Filipino beauties in the spectacle highlighted by the grand presentation of 2011 Ms. Universe third runner-up Shamcey Supsup.

Supsup later also served a special presentor of trophies during the enshrinement of Alvin Patrimonio, Billy Ray Bates, Freddie Hubalde, Tommy Manotoc, Tito Eduque, Bobong Velez and Mariano Yenko to the Hall of Fame.

The crowd warmly greeted members of the Smart Gilas Pilipinas team as they were presented on center court.

In a touching gesture, coach Rajko Toroman stood from his seat in the gallery and gave his players applause. Some of the players saluted him in return.

“It’s their destiny,” said Toroman afterwards, happy his players are now on the next level of their playing careers.

Team captain Chris Tiu was present in the ceremony although he opted to stay as an amateur and continue serving the national team.

“I have several commitments which I can’t serve if I join the PBA,” said Tiu.

Naturalized player Marcus Douthit was also there.

With the PBA to use imports of unlimited height in the second conference, Douthit, this early, looms as prime candidate for any squad.

In cooperation of fans on the Patron Section of the Big Dome, a giant national flag was unfurled during the singing of the national anthem by a lovely quartet.

Then a warrior did some ritual before a solemn invocation was read.

Then the party began.

After the season theme was conveyed in a spectacle of songs and dances, the 10 teams made their way to the court to cheers from their respective fans.

Introduced to the floor earlier were their muses.

These were Bubbles Paraiso of Alaska, Helga Krapf of Barako Bull, Solenn Heussaff of Ginebra, Rhian Ramos of B-MEG, Dianne Necio and Isabella Manjon of Meralco, Helen Nicolette Henson, Martha Chloe McCully and Samantha Neville Purvor of Petron, Maricar Reyes of Powerade, Michelle Gavagan of Rain or Shine, Iya Villania of Shopinas and Venus Raj and Nora Aunor of Talk n Text.

Chairman Mert Mondragon declared the season open then Barangay Ginebra and Rain or Shine slugged it out in the opening game. (SB)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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