THE PBA received an invitation to hold games as part of the Dubai Expo 2020 celebration, with three to four selected teams supposed to play in a mini tournament.
Unfortunately, the spike in COVID-19 cases in the country once more spoiled what would have been another partnership between Asia's pioneering pro league and one of the world's cosmopolitan metropolis.
The invitation extended by Kevin Brown, planning and management vice president, master calendar-events and entertainment of Expo 2020, was originally slated for a Jan. 27 to 30 playdate to be held at the Expo Sports Arena.
But with the season-ending Governors' Cup indefinitely on hold at the moment due to the health crisis, the league politely begged off from the invite.
Expo 2020 is a trade fair featuring innovations and various products from different countries around the world and is set from Oct. 1, 2021 up to March 31 of this year.
Originally, it was scheduled from October 20, 2020 to April 2021, but was put off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A second invite was actually tendered for late March, but with the tentative postponement of the games, the PBA doesn't see it fit to play in Dubai at around that time.
"We would really like to make arrangements and tie this down as we have a limited calendar availability until Expo 2020 will end," part of the letter invitation read.
Commissioner Willie Marcial already sent his sincere apology for not being able to accommodate the Dubai invitation at this time of the pandemic, but is truly looking forward at working with the organizers in future endeavors, especially in bringing the PBA brand of basketball in the Middle East, where a lot of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are currently based.
The commissioner is also grateful to Dubai officials for extending its hands and always welcoming the PBA in one of the world's most popular tourist destinations.
Three years ago, the league held two games of the Governors' Cup in Dubai featuring Barangay Ginebra, San Miguel, and NLEX.
During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dubai also offered to host the resumption of the 2020 Philippine Cup through a full bubble at the Coca-Cola Arena, a plan that didn't push through due to time constraint. (RG)