Action from the match between the San Miguel Beermen and NLEX at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai. Image Credit: Antonin Kelian Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) plans to further consolidate their presence in the UAE with some more regular season matches planned for the near future.

Willie O. Marcial, PBA Commissioner told Gulf News that the PBA has already been in advanced discussions with the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) to facilitate the hosting of some more regular season matches, or even a game featuring an All-Star side.

“The Dubai Sports Council is keen that we organise more games in Dubai in the future. We are only too pleased to accommodate such a request as it gives us the opportunity to further our interests and the interests of basketball in the region,” Marcial told Gulf News.

“The DSC general secretary led by Saeed Hareb is in close touch with the PBA about how we can take our sport forward here. He is all in favour of us organising more such games in Dubai, and if that is not possible, then at least have an exhibition match involving an all-star side.”

This was the seventh year of the PBA’s presence in the UAE with three teams — the San Miguel Beermen, the NLEX Road Warriors and the Barangay Ginebra Kings — involved in two regular season matches of the Governor’s Cup over last weekend.

Watched by a packed house at the Coca-Cola Arena, NLEX Road Warriors stormed back from 28 points down to stun Barangay Ginebra in a thrilling 113-111 overtime win on Saturday.

“PBA is in the blood of all Filipinos and organising a few matches of the PBA can bring a lot of cheer in their lives as they are far away from home,” Maria Teresa Sales Al Ansari, Managing Director of sponsors Far Eastern Private School, said.

“Over the past few years, the PBA has proved to be one of the best attended sporting events in the UAE and that is the reason why we are so supportive of this weekend of matches here.”

The weekend witnessed a full-house on both days at the Coca-Cola Arena with Filipinos enjoying every bit of action. “Basketball is the biggest and most popular sport among the Filipinos and that’s the reason why I didn’t hesitate to back this weekend’s event. This is one sport that Filipinos can connect with each other, and perhaps one of the few ways we can bring happiness and job among my kabayan,” Al Ansari said.

A resident of the UAE since the past 33 years, Al Ansari opened the first branch of her Far Eastern Private School in 2001 with a mere seven students. “Since then we have grown to more than 2,000 students, and today we are at the point of opening a third branch,” she added.

“We have grown and we would love to see the PBA grow in this country due to the support we can give it. We are more than willing to assist in any way possible,” Al Ansari added.