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The Last Home Stand That Never Was

The PLDT Last Home Stand was advertised as a tuneup game for the Gilas Pilipinas basketball team, until a last-second announcement forced the players to engage in practice drills with the NBA selection. (Poster courtesy of the MVP Group of Companies)

The PLDT Last Home Stand was supposed to be a tuneup game for the Gilas Pilipinas basketball team in preparation for the FIBA World Cup. However, it did not turn out as advertised.

Last night’s event, which involved the Gilas team and a contingent of NBA players led by All-Stars James Harden, DeMar DeRozan and Damien Lillard, was turned into a practice drill. The announcement came after the NBA threatened its players with suspensions and fines if they played in an ‘unsanctioned’ match, or in Filipino terms, ‘ligang labas’.

The unfortunate turn of events did not sit well with fans, who paid as much as P23,000 just to watch a significant tuneup game. As a result, boos rained down the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with some fans demanding refunds for their tickets.

With the event taking a turn for the worse, PLDT executive vice president Ariel Fermin announced later that night that ticket refunds for disgruntled fans will be honored, but still reminded fans that the event was for the benefit of victims of Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda. He even added that ‘there was no mention of a game’, but media outlets who promoted The Last Home Stand in advance said otherwise.

In the aftermath of the poorly-received event, PLDT chairman Manny V. Pangilinan apologized to fans for the turnout of the event. He then said that PLDT will be responsible for the repercussions surrounding the event.

Despite the unexpected change of plans, TV5 still aired The PLDT Last Home Stand as scheduled. But with tonight’s events already cancelled, the usual filler programs featuring Tagalized movies will be aired instead.

The PLDT Last Home Stand was supposed to be the follow-up to the successful Smart Ultimate All-Star Weekend in 2011. However, the latter event that also involved an NBA selection was held during an NBA lockout, in which player contracts were suspended while negotiations were ongoing.

All in all, it was a public relations nightmare for the MVP Group of Companies, particularly PLDT. The event was hyped for months, beginning with the PBA and NCAA games, and culminating with the appearance of NBA players on the noontime show ‘Eat Bulaga’ last Monday. But all that hype went down the drain as the NBA decided to get involved with the charity event.

In the end, it was harsh lesson learned by the MVP Group, something they will remember for years to come. Let’s just hope that the unfortunate aftermath of the event will in no way affect the FIBA World Cup preparations of Gilas Pilipinas.

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