PBA plans to bring 'virtual fans' into Clark bubble

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2020 01:21 PM

PBA fans can still cheer on their team even though they can't enter the bubble in Clark. File photo. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News.


MANILA, Philippines -- PBA fans can still make their presence felt when the league resumes its season in a "bubble" in Clark this October, commissioner Willie Marcial has assured.

Fans will not be allowed to watch the games physically at the Angeles University Foundation, where the All-Filipino Cup will be held after it was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

But Marcial said that plans are being made to ensure that a fan presence will be felt by the players. 

"Parang NBA, may LED (screens), makikita 'yung mga fans, maririnig ng mga players 'yung sigaw ng fans," he said in a recent press conference.

The NBA has found a way to bring their fans into their bubble at the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, via its digital fan experience. Fans can register via a website, and if they are chosen, they may see their face on the giant video screens that surround the courts in Orlando.

Through this initiative, done in collaboration with Microsoft, fans get to not only watch their teams, they may even find themselves side-by-side with celebrities and the players' relatives. In recent days, rapper Lil Wayne, singer Halsey, and former NBA players such as Miami's Dwyane Wade and Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki have all made appearances in the virtual fan section.

Marcial said the PBA will try to duplicate this experience.

"Meron sa baseline, merong parang graphics ang television," he said. "Ang mga fans, makikita."

"Makakapanood ka, magkakaroon kami ng ibang experience 'pag pumasok ka doon sa aming parang website, para makapanood ka," he added.

They will also run contests for fans and offer prizes.

"Maraming gimmicks sa website na 'yun," Marcial guaranteed.

PBA chairman Ricky Vargas stressed that they are doing all they can to bring the league back with the Filipino basketball fans in mind.

"Ang sabi ng mga team owners, ang sabi ng mga PBA governors, this is about time that we give it back to our fans, whom we think... will appreciate it most when we bring back the PBA," he said during a recent appearance on "Power and Play."

"That was what was in it for us, and what motivated us. What motivated us was exactly saying, 'Kailangan na ito, ibalik na natin sa fans, ngayon lalo na sa pandemic,'" he added.