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PBA plotting Hong Kong matches

Kobey Lam of Bay Area (being guarded by Jaime Malonzo) is one of the key players of the squad in last season's PBA Commissioner's Cup campaign. (Photo by PBA Media Bureau)

Bay Area is set to make a return with a new name and will hold some of its Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup matches in its home court in Hong Kong.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial told Daily Tribune that the Hong Kong games of the Dragons are already “on the table” and are expected to be formalized in the coming weeks.

Marcial said they are already in the process of ironing out the nitty-gritty of the set-up like the competition and practice venues, transportation and accommodation of teams which will be battling the Dragons in Hong Kong. The last time the league played an official game abroad was on 7 October 2019 when NLEX booked a thrilling 113-111 overtime win over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the Governors’ Cup at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai.

It was a huge hit with Jericho Cruz nailing the go-ahead three-pointer in the final 20 seconds in the extra period to complete the shocking upset.

Marcial said they are looking forward to bringing the matches outside the country anew.

“It’s already approved in principle,” Marcial said in a telephone conversation. ‘We expect the Dragons to bring Hong Kongers immense excitement, inspiration and pride.’

“We are just finalizing the nitty-gritty. We have to iron out things like the venues, transportation, and accommodation of those who will be participating. We still have to discuss these things, but these are already on the table.”

The Dragons announced Hong Kong will be their home venue from October 2023 to March 2024 following a very successful campaign in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, where they faced the Kings in a dramatic seven-game finals series.

But what made the encounter very memorable was the thrilling Game 7 that was witnessed by a record-breaking crowd of 54,589 spectators at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Aside from the PBA, the Dragons will also hold their home matches in the East Asia Super League at the Southorn Stadium in the former Crown colony.

EASL chief executive officer Matt Beyer said they expect the Hong Kong citizens to rally behind the Dragons, especially since most of them came from mainland China, Taipei and the Chinese diaspora.

The composition of the squad is still being assembled but Chinese stars Zhu Songwei and Liu Chuanxing as well as Hong Kong captain Duncan Reid and former South China standout Glen Yang are expected to return as well as head coach Brian Goorjian of Australia.

Beyer added that the Dragons are operating in Hong Kong in partnership with local team Chun Yu Basketball Club with the recognition of the Hong Kong Basketball Association. Under the partnership with Chun Yu Basketball Club, the full name of the Dragons for the coming season will be the Chun Yu Bay Area Dragons.

“We expect the Dragons to bring Hong Kongers immense excitement, inspiration and pride. Dragons’ games will be the hottest sports tickets in town,” Beyer said in a statement.

Marcial stressed that they are expected to have the Dragons back on board and play their games in Hong Kong, which is just a short flight away from Manila.

“The PBA is very excited about adding in a Hong Kong element to our upcoming Commissioner’s Cup, and we look forward to the Bay Area Dragons team re-joining the PBA,” Marcial said.


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