Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Sputtering PBA teams hope to reverse Commissioner's Cup fortune in Dubai

By Ares P. Gutierrez
Copy Editor, Gulf News

Fans will have their fill of top-class hardcourt action as the Philippine Basketball Association – the oldest professional basketball league in Asia – open their two-day Middle East road show today (Thursday) at the Al Shabab Club in Al Mamzar, Dubai.

Winless in Manila, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters under fiery coach Yeng Guiao hope to put a stop to their downward skid in the Commissioner’s Cup as they go up against the Barako Bull Energy Boosters at 8pm and perennial crowd-favourite Barangay Ginebra Kings tomorrow (Friday)

The Elasto Painters are yet to break into the win column after losing their first two elimination round matches. The Kings and the Energy Boosters are in the middle of the standings with records of 1-1 and 1-2, respectively.

The Elasto Painters are reinforced by Duke Crews, a 6ft 7in former All-American who played for the University of Tennessee and Bowie State in the US NCAA. Dermarr Johnson, who was picked sixth overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2000 National Basketball Association (NBA) will man the slot for the Energy Boosters while the Kings are again relying on 7ft 1in centre Chris Alexander, who played a vital role in their last championship run in the 2008-2009 season.

The three teams, together with league officials and staff, arrived yesterday morning in Abu Dhabi and traveled straight to Dubai. Last year, the PBA played two matches in Dubai with the Talk N’Text Tropang Texters splitting their games against the the B-Meg Llamados and Barangay Ginebra Kings.

“These are not exhibition games. They’re not here to have fun. These are regular season games of the Commissioner’s Cup and every game is crucial as teams need to win as many games as they can to qualify for the next round,” PBA commissioner Chito Salud told Gulf News.

The Commissioner’s Cup tournament has a single round elimination stage with teams playing nine games each. Teams are then seeded based on their win-loss record. The top two teams after the elimination stage will advance to the semi-finals while the next four finishers will play in a quarter-final play-off series with the winners advancing to the four-team semi-finals.

Asked why the PBA returned to Dubai despite a foul up in last year’s tour when the local promoter failed to fulfil his financial obligations, commissioner Salud said: “Our mentality in the PBA is to move forward particularly when what is at stake is the welfare of our fans. The PBA was not really damaged by the incident… we learnt our lessons that’s why we resolved that when we go back here, we’ll make sure that the safety and security of our players are ensured and I believe that we’re now in safe hands”.

Local organiser Edwin Deang, chairman of the Dubai-based Philippine Expat Basketball Club, said he expects the PBA tour will be a huge hit not only among Filipinos but to other basketball-loving expatriates in the UAE as well.

“The clamour to bring the PBA back to Dubai has been tremendous,” Deang said.

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