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PBA makes Philsports return

The Philippine Basketball Association is making a return to a place it used to call “home.”

Based on the schedule of the Commissioner’s Cup, the league will be holding 17 game days at Philsports Multi-Purpose Arena in Pasig City, marking a return to a venue that hosted a lot of memorable games back in the day.

PBA deputy commissioner Eric Castro said their return to the historic venue that was used to be known as “Ultra” was the outcome of their collaboration with new Philippine Sports Commission chairperson Jose Emmanuel “Noli” Eala.

In fact, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial made a courtesy call to Eala — a former PBA chief — last Friday to formalize the league’s return to the government facility.

Philsports serves as the home of the PBA from 1985 to 1992 in which it hosted memorable matches featuring legends like Robert Jaworski Sr., Ramon Fernandez, Allan Caidic, Benjie Paras and Alvin Patrimonio as well as great imports like Norman Black and Billy Ray Bates.

It also witnessed the grand slam conquest of San Miguel Beer in 1989 as well as the iconic buzzer-beater jumper of Barangay Ginebra gunslinger Bal David that reduced Mobiline behemoth Asi Taulava into a huge mass of tears in the Philippine Cup quarterfinals in 1999.

It also housed the PBA office before moving to its current location in Libis, Quezon City.

“It feels great,” said Castro, speaking on behalf of Marcial who is in a business trip in Japan.

“We have a lot of memories there. We consider Philsports as one of our homes.”

Terrafirma Dyip and Converge will be the first PBA squads to return to the Philsports Arena when they collide in the first game on 23 September.

After that, Yeng Guiao and his new team — Rain or Shine — will step on the floor when they tackle his former squad — NLEX — in the second game.

Also scheduled to be played in Philsports are marquee matches between Meralco and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on 2 October, Ginebra and guest team Bay Area Dragons on 9 October, Magnolia and Bay Area Dragons on 19 November and TNT Tropang Giga and Bay Area Dragons on 23 November.

Aside from Philsports, the league will also hold 11 game days at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, six game days at Ynares Center in Antipolo City, and five game days at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

“We’re very grateful to PSC chairman Noli Eala and (PSC executive director) Atty. (Guillermo) Iroy for giving us a chance to play again at Ultra,” said Castro, whose league will return to the Philsports Arena for the first time since moving to Cuneta Astrodome in 1993.

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