TWO teams hope to gain their confidence at the expense of a ballclub that’s seeking to sustain its hot start in the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup.
It’s the scenario ready to be laid out by the league in a pair of game in Dubai featuring the Mahindra Enforcers, Barangay Ginebra, and Alaska over the weekend.
Of the three, it’s the Aces who are faced with the daunting task of having to play two straight games in their bid to keep their hot streak going in the all-filipino tournament.
The Aces tackle the Enforcers first at 8 p.m. (12 midnight Manila time) on Friday at the Al Wasl Stadium, then return to the same venue at same time the next day to play the Kings.
Both the Enforcers and the Kings have dropped their first two outings in the kickoff conference, and that should be enough motivation for them to give their all against the Aces, who are riding the crest of back-to-back victories they pulled off against Talk ‘N Text (114-98) and Blackwater (87-79).
The Enforcers lost to the Elasto Painters (108-94) last Oct. 25, and Talk ‘N Text (101-97) last Oct. 31, and on both occasions, showed they can stand toe-to-toe against the league’s heavyweights.
The Kings are also off to a bad start, dropping their first two outings against Star and Barako Bull as they continue to grope for form under the system of coach Tim Cone.
The Enforcers and the Aces left this morning via Singapore Airlines for the trip to the progressive and most populous city in United Arab Emirates, while the Kings will proceed Wednesday morning aboard the same airline.
PBA officials, headed by chief executive officer Chito Salud, deputy commissioner Rickie Santos, and media bureau head Willie Marcial, along with game and technical officials who will conduct the games, are to leave at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday via Emirates.
Commissioner Chito Narvasa will fly to Dubai right after attending to the games at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.
Salud meanwhile expressed his deep appreciation of the Aces’ acceptance to play back-to-back games like what Rain or Shine did when the league also held two games in that business hub of the Middle East.
“Nagpapasalamat tayo sa Alaska Aces sa pagpayag nilang maglaro ng back-to-back official games. Alam kong gagawin nila ito para sa ating mga kababayan sa UAE,” said Salud, who heads the league delegation.
Salud said bringing games overseas is one way of saying thanks to the thousands of enduring OFWs, whose dollar remittances contribute dramatically to the economic growth of the country.
“It is one of our ways of saying thank you to these countrymen of ours who endure loneliness and at times, even hostile working conditions to be able to support their families back home and of course the country through their remittances,” said Salud.
“Without fail, the PBA is always rewarded by the warmest reception one can receive pre, during, and post game. And Dubai ranks up there when it comes to the intensity of reception the PBA gets every time we go there,” he added.
Fans in Dubai will also get the chance to see boxing idol Manny Pacquiao who will accompany the Mahindra Enforcers in what will be the team’s first official sortie overseas since joining Asia’s first play-for-pay league last season.