PLDT and Smart Telecommunications' Manuel V. Pangilinan led several basketball honchos in visiting the AFC Challenge Cup's venue, the Panaad Sports Stadium, over the weekend.
Pangilinan, who was joined by Ricky Vargas, Pato Gregorio and Metro Pacific's Ramon Fernandez, had his time taking a look at the sports facilities and confirming attendance in the much awaited football match between Philippine Football team Azkals and Mongolia next month, February 9.
He likewise promised to help finance the upcoming game including the sponsorship of the National Inter City Club Cup to be held nationwide in the coming months. Furthermore, Pangilinan also offered ABC Channel 5 for live coverage of the international football matches in the future.
Meanwhile, PBA Commissioner Chito Salud along with Willie Marcial and Negros Basketball Association president Oscar Bascon also had a surprise visit at Panaad last Friday during trying out of the lighting system led by POC Chairman and former Bacolod City Representative Monico Puentevella.
The POC official further stressed that even though Panaad lightings have passed PFF requirements but has to put up additional lights to support the existing facilities.
Puentevella also disclosed that the Asian Football Federation in Jakarta has offered Panaad two months to host the next Suzuki Cup in 2012, as long as the requirements for bigger space for the spectators, lighting system for broadcast satellite, and security measures are in place.
Meanwhile, PFF President Mariano Araneta has expressed his appreciation to the football aficionados who have expressed their support for the Azkals. Iloilo and Cebu football fanatics are expected to join the crowd in Bacolod during the game.
Graeme Mckinnon, who gave Cebu a name in local football several years ago and who is now residing in Australia has saved all his money and again be the cheerleader as what he did during the 2005 SEA Games.
Pauline Javelona of Negros Occidental Football Association (NOFA) yesterday said that for those Negrenses and Bacoleños who are interested to buy tickets for the said games and have their reservations may contact 0922-8210466.
Bearers of these tickets will earn their sets at the main grand stand.
Meanwhile, Araneta has been wary that even the 10,000 free admission tickets in the bleachers may not be enough to cover the overwhelming crowd experienced in 2005, especially with the thousands coming from Manila, Cebu, Dumaguete, Panay, and many parts of Mindanao. (Jerome S. Galunan Jr.)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 24, 2011.