MANILA, Philippines – It was announced as a sellout crowd, but there were noticeably empty seats at the Mall of Asia Arena during the historic NBA preseason game – the first ever in the Philippines – last night between the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers.
With minutes to go before tip-off, there were still sections in the lower box area that were almost completely empty, though the general admission section was filled to the rafters.
It was later announced that a crowd of 12,885 watched the game, which the Rockets won 116-96.
Still, it was a somewhat disappointing turnout considering the hype for the historic game. Moreover, UAAP basketball and volleyball games as well as PBA games have drawn bigger crowds at the venue, which opened last year.
Some netizens believe that the sky-high ticket prices prevented many basketball-loving Filipinos to watch the game live.
“Mahal kasi ng ticket, gusto ko pa naman sana manood,” said Twitter user Rosiel Roflo.
“Wish they priced the tickets a bit lower,” tweeted @RMLRamos.
Tickets for the GenAd section were sold at P550, while the upper box tickets sold for P4,200 up to P8,400.
But the lower box tickets, where there were most empty seats, were sold for P27,000. Patron tickets went for P32,300.
“Mas marami pang nanonood ng Manila Clasico,” noted Twitter user @HapHapHurray, referring to the PBA game between Ginebra and San Mig Coffee.
Some netizens also blamed the traffic in the area, which was partly caused by a sudden downpour. Many fans arrived late, and were only able to take their seats in the second quarter or even after halftime.
Though the turnout was smaller than expected, the fans who attended actively cheered nearly every minute of NBA action that they saw, especially when it was Houston’s Jeremy Lin or James Harden handling the ball.
They also participated in the activities during breaks, cheering loudly for the halftime dunk show presented by the Indiana Pacers dunk team, and laughing at the antics of the teams’ mascots, Boomer and Clutch.
Several personalities were also spotted in the crowd, including Kapamilya actress KC Concepcion, who has been linked to Houston forward Chandler Parsons.