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PBA acts on slipping receipts, attendance

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PBA chairman Robert Non, left, holds a media briefing with PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa, center, and PBA CEO/president Chito Salud yesterday at the Hilton Hotel in Tokyo.

TOKYO – In the aftermath of slipping gate receipts and attendance in the 40th season last year, the Philippine Basketball Association is embarking on an aggressive strategy to counteract the slide by identifying vulnerable points that may have led to the drop and finding solutions to fortify them.

Six areas for focus of study, according to former PBA commissioner Chito Salud, the incoming league president and chief executive officer, have been pinpointed and will be the subject of a probe team’s scrutiny right after the board of governors’ annual planning session at the Hilton Hotel here.

Foremost, Salud said, is the need to strengthen the league’s expansion teams, Blackwater and Kia Motors (to be known as the Mahindra Defenders next season), which groped for competitiveness on their rookie year and will again be the beneficiaries of a handicapping system in the two import-laced conferences.

The handicapping details will be released within the next few days, Salud said.

Second is to avoid smaller playing courts at the expense of regular-sized venues like the Smart Araneta Coliseum and the Mall of Asia Arena which impact gate attendance with their capacity and convenience.

Sweeps in the final four matchup during the playoffs, particularly in the semifinals, are also being eyed as potential attendance busters as well as the extra game day innovation which stretched the weekly schedule from four days to five (with Tuesday added), a novelty that may have overburdened already “budget-constrained” fans.

The PBA will also be looking at the wisdom of continuing with the original daily time schedule of a 4 p.m. jump ball for the opening game, a 45-minute break, and a 7 p.m. tip-off for the featured offering, reportedly a league accommodation for the covering TV5 network.

Lastly, the league hopes to find out what clearly is already evident in the ill effects of the short breaks between conferences. Compressing the calendar to fit into the program of Gilas Pilipinas, which the PBA has committed to support, the rest period for players and fans shrunk from 15 to 20 days after the Philippine Cup and the Commissioner’s Cup to an average of four days.

“There could be an element of sawa and fatigue on the part of our fans,” Salud said.

Overall, he added, “we want to take a closer look at these six aspects and report to the board in our next meeting (on Aug. 27) how these could be addressed.”