By TITO S. TALAO
Manila, Philippines – Amid the grief and suffering wrought by a devastating typhoon which drew a worldwide outpouring of support, the Philippine Basketball Association opens its 39th season – the PLDT myDSL Philippine Cup – today in three different regions under a somber atmosphere of empathy and restraint.
Though the traditional parade of teams and muses, as well as the speeches and the accompanying opening ceremony, will push through as scheduled, much of the inaugural hype will be tempered and deferential in mood.
“We will dedicate our simple opening rites to all of our kababayan who were affected by Yolanda. We want them to know that they are in our prayers and that the PBA will continue to be of help to them in the long road to normalcy,” said PBA commissioner Chito Salud.
“The ferocity of competition they will see on opening day will in no way be reflective of our lack of understanding of what truly matters in life and sympathy for those impacted. Rather, it will be a showcase of the brave hearts of our players who all want to serve as inspiration to our countrymen at this time.”
The PBA has donated P1 million to the victims of the calamity and is doing away with the more celebratory aspects of the originally-conceived inaugural rites.
“Para sa kanila yung Linggo. Sana makapagdulot ng konting kasiyahan,” Salud added.
A minute of silence will be observed before the opening and another minute of prayer before each game.
While the festivity has been dramatically toned down, the ambitious three-game, six-team opening remained undisturbed, with the unprecedented event taking place in Manila at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, in the Visayas at the New Cebu Coliseum, and the USEP gym in Davao City representing Mindanao, two of them simultaneously.
The main course of the gargantuan season curtainraiser is the game between newly crowned Governors’ Cup champion San Mig Coffee and 2013 Commissioner’s Cup finalist Barangay Ginebra San Miguel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum at 3 p.m.
Second and third servings will then be available, with current Commissioner’s Cup champion Alaska Milk facing off with 2012 Governors’ Cup titlist Rain or Shine at 5:15 p.m. in Davao City, and 2013 Philippine Cup winner Talk ‘N Text taking on Meralco also at 3 p.m. in Cebu.
After the 2 p.m. ceremony, Ginebra San Miguel and San Mig Coffee get to parade their top rookies – Greg Slaughter for the Kings and Ian Sangalang for the Mixers – in the game to be aired live over TV5.
The Rain or Shine-Alaska clash in Davao will follow right after also live on the same channel, while the Meralco-Talk ‘N Text match will be beamed on a delayed basis, completing more than six hours of PBA-viewing pleasure.