SEOUL, South Korea – From Dubai, now its Korea.
The PBA is looking to hold a regular game in this highly-urbanized Korean capital, preferably during the season-ending Governors Cup when the league adopts the novelty concept of hiring Asian reinforcements.
League chairman Patrick Gregorio bared the plan of bringing the game here for Filipino Overseas Workers (OFWs) following their meeting with the Korean Basketball League (KBL) on Thursday.
Gregorio was accompanied by Commissioner Chito Salud, operations chief Rickie Santos, and media bureau chief Willie Marcial in the meeting with KBL officials led by Commissioner Kim Young Ki held at the 10-storey building office of the top professional cage league in this country.
“The commissioner asked if we could schedule a regular game in Korea for the Filipinos here. Hopefully, we can schedule that in the third conference,” said Gregorio.
Previously, the league already held regular games in Dubai for the thousands of OFWs who are based in the Middle East.
Gregorio is hopeful the league will do the same thing here, where an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 OFWs are staying.
“They were quite shocked and surprised to see the passion of the Filipinos during the Asian Games here wherein they saw the Filipinos going to the venues so early to buy tickets. They admired the Filipinos because they stayed outside the venue and waited for the team (Gilas Pilipinas),” said the PBA chairman.
During the same meeting, Gregorio broached the idea of tapping Asian players, including Koreans, to play as reinforcements during the PBA’s last conference for the season.
The new KBL season will start next week and end in April, just in time for PBA teams to tap the services of Korean players for the Governors Cup that usually kicks off by the end of May.
“Eksakto sa conference natin kaya they’re excited,” said Gregorio. “They are actually surprised to find there are more or less one million Koreans in the Philippines as well as Koreans who are celebrities like model Jinri Park and comedian Ryan Bang.”
For his part, Kim, who once suited up for the Korean national team and went up against the likes of Filipino cage heroes Caloy Loyzaga and the late Charlie Badion, also asked the PBA if it could allow its players to likewise see action as imports in the KBL.
“The KBL officials were impressed with the idea (Asian reinforcement) that they quickly sought that we reciprocate by letting our PBA players to play in their league, too.
“Imagine nakuha na kaagad nila ang idea natin. Ang gusto kaagad ay payagan rin natin na makapaglaro ang PBA players natin sa kanilang liga,” said Gregorio.