DUBAI – Three PBA teams arrived in this Middle East business hub Wednesday, ready to provide
entertainment and excitement to Filipino workers in their two-game swing here.
Rain or Shine sees action in both games, tangling with Barako Bull at 8 p.m. Thursday then taking on Barangay Ginebra at 7 p.m. Friday. Both are set at the Al-Shabab Sports Center.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud said they’re visiting Dubai for the third time in five years
purposely to bring love, affection and cheers to the OFWs based here.
“This is not a junket. Mahirap para sa mga ball clubs ang bumyahe ng malayo to play an official
game but these three teams sacrifice to help make our kababayans happy,” said Salud during press
conference held a few hours after they settled at the Asiana Hotel in the Deira district.
What makes this event special is that it features Rain or Shine, Barako Bull and Barangay Ginebra in critical tiffs in the short PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“It’s already desperation period for us. We’re on the verge of being on a panic mode,” said
coach Yeng Guiao whose RoS team lost its first two games in the tourney.
“This Dubai trip is important for us. We’re down to six steps to the playoffs. One misstep and
we may be out,” said coach Junel Baculi whose Barako team, on the other hand, is off to a 1-2
“It’s so short a tourney that each game is magnified,” said coach Siot Tanquingcen whose
Ginebra squad is at 1-1.
The three teams plus the commissioner and his staff make up the 95-strong PBA delegation arriving in Dubai at 8 a.m. Wednesday (12 noon in Manila) after a long 12-hour haul via Abu Dhabi.
Each one is tired but ready to buckle down to work.
“Iba pakiramdam maglaro sa harap ng mga kababayan mo na alam mong sabik sa ganitong
pagkakataon,” said Barako top gun Willie Miller.
“Marami akong kababayan sa Olongapo at kasama sa Letran na manonood. Kasama sila sa magiging
inspirasyon ko sa laro,” Miller added.
“This is my second time here, and I love how they adore us. We have to give something back,”
said Ginebra main man Mark Caguioa.
As the team playing both games, Guiao said they love the challenge.
“It’s a privilege. We love to play before our kababayans who long for PBA action. We’re
playing two games, and so we’re leaving more marks,” said Guiao.
“It’s also a privilege for us to go out of the country and play in front of our kababayans.
Hopefully, we could come home with a win to make this trip extra special,” said Tanquingcen.
“Yes, it’s a privilege, an honor and a challenge at the same time,” said Baculi. (SB)