Unlike in NBA (National Basketball Association), teams playing in PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) do not have their own home court (except Barangay Ginebra, the team that calls every venue its home court due to the overflowing fans it has). PBA teams game days feature two games in the same venue, 40 minutes apart. Each ticket entitles the bearer to both games. Some opt to watch only the game they watch. Others arrive earlier to watch both games or the latter part of the first game or leave late to watch the first game and the first part of the second game. Rarely do people watch both games in their entirety. We can blame the hellish Metro Manila traffic for that.
For those who watch two games from start to finish, that means staying in the venue, in this case Smart-Araneta Coliseum, for over five hours. With the duration of each game lasting only 48 minutes, which can be stretched to two hours per game many thanks to the halftime break, team and technical timeouts, and the sometimes unending whistleblowing for fouls, there is still an hour that is unaccounted for with regards to game time. So what does one do to pass time?
Here are ways to spend time during PBA games interlude:
- Eat snacks.
Near the entrances of Smart-Araneta Coliseum, there are food stalls that offer various types of snacks, mostly from PBA teams and partners. There are hotdogs on sticks, hotdogs in buns, cheeseburgers, nachos with cheese, French fries, flavored sweet corn, pizza, and cotton candy. Eating these and shouting and cheering make one thirsty as well, so there are lukewarm bottled water and not-so-cold iced tea, too. I am not sure if they sell beer.
- Take photos.
I did not see a lot of people taking selfies when I watched the games on Wednesday, but many trained their phones, tablets and cameras on the players, mascots and the dancing women at halftime.
- Participate in the games.
During halftime breaks, sponsors give away goodies for game winners. Audience can shoot a tiny ball from their seats into a mobile tiny basket. The man whose back props up the tiny basket helps the shooters by moving towards the ball. It is actually a sweet deal, especially when the whole of Smart-Araneta cheers the participants to succeed.
Another game involves wearing a fat suit. Two fat suit-wearers challenge each other in a half court game. The one who makes more baskets win it. The one I saw had two baskets to zilch.
A third game involves blindfold. A lone participant is blindfolded, asked to turn around in place several times, directed by the announcer to walk towards the basket and cheered on to make one basket. The one I witnessed had five to seven attempts but did not make any.
A fourth game is a race against time. Two participants start from one end of the court. They are given 20 (30?) seconds to put on a basketball jersey, run around three (or four?) cone heads and shoot the ball at the other end of the court. They have one chance to make the shot. Both participants failed to do it.
- Make a lot of noise when you see a mid-sized slingshot.
The slingshot is held by a man on either side. One of the dancing women holds the middle part of the slingshot, places a shirt in it and lets it fly into the crowd. They give away a dozen each halftime break, but fewer during timeouts. The slingshot reaches as far as the nosebleed section, but it usually targets the sections where people stand, make a lot of noise and jump in time to snatch the shirt in the air (or from someone else’s hands).
- Participate in Where’s Waldo?
The huge screens inside Smart-Araneta show former PBA players in attendance, famous personalities or wacky fans. It is an unofficial past time for many to find the exact location of these people. The men behind me tried to look for Vic Sotto, wife Pauleen Luna and daughter Danica Pingris during the Star Hotshots – Mahindra Enforcers match. They tried for ten minutes, guessed incorrectly and gave up. The trio sat directly opposite us, in the ringside section. I wanted to tell them, at minute 2, but I had so much fun listening to their guesses.
- Shout! Shout! Let it all out!
In UAAP games, the sound of drums is definitely deafening. Their rhythm signals when to shout “DE-FENSE!” or “Shoot that ball!” Students and alumni of each school memorize chants and cheers. There are cheerleaders to encourage the audience to participate in active watching. PBA teams do not have these luxuries, so it is up to the loyal fans to make noise, clap with delight or stomp their feet. PBA fans improvise when it comes to what they scream, but they are united in chanting, “Wala! Wala! Wala!” when the opponents take free throws. It is a“prayer” for the free throw taker to miss. It works 64% of the time. 64% is just a random number.