DUBAI – Playing back-to-back games against one of the hottest teams in the PBA Governors’ Cup and before a large Filipino crowd expected to shower them with fire-and-brimstone in loyal support of their other opponent will fuel the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters when they go through a gauntlet in the next two days at the Al Shabab Al Arabi Club in the United Arab Emirates.
ROS coach Yeng Guiao believes something positive will emerge from their decision to subject the E-Painters to such a rigorous schedule.
“This is a character-building situation for us,” said Guiao, who hopes to get off two practice sessions and one walk-through scrimmage before they face the Globalport Batang Pier (3-1) on Thursday and the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings on Friday.
The E-Painters and the Batang Pier arrived in this scorching, sand-swept Middle East oil well late Monday night aboard a Philippine Airlines flight that flew direct from Manila for nine hours, got picked up from the Dubai airport by two air-conditioned buses, stuffed full in a midnight dinner of grilled shrimp, squid, chicken, vinegar-marinated fish, eggplant omelet, bulalo soup and fried rice spread out on light-green banana leaves by a staff of a dozen Filipinos in a downtown place called My David’s Restaurant, and deposited heavy-eyed at the Traders Hotel in the wee hours of Tuesday.
It took the PBA delegation an hour to consume the feast served before them and another hour to board back their transports in the midst of requests for selfies and autographs from scores of OFWs who mobbed the players before, during and after the grand treat.
Asked earlier if there’s a possibility Rain or Shine will persevere at an average pace and work the clock against Globalport to conserve energy and then go full blast in its Dubai rematch with Barangay Ginebra, which beat them, 89-88, the last time the PBA played here in 2012, Guiao flat out said no.
“We will go all out 100 percent both games; there will be no holding back,” Guiao said. “That’s who we are and that’s what we intend to bring before our kababayans here. We agreed to play back-to-back games here as part of our commitment to bring high level basketball entertainment to our OFWs. They can expect only the best effort from us.”
PBA commissioner Chito Salud also promised fans an exciting show.
“Dubai always beckons,” said Salud, who flew in aboard Emirates Airways in the early hours of Tuesday with PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio of Talk ‘N Text, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel alternate governor Alfrancis Chua and league media bureau chief Willie Marcial.
“And we can’t resist our fans here. They simply love the PBA, and the PBA loves our countrymen here even more. ROS, Globalport and Ginebra will put on a show for Dubai!”
ROS will be without Jeff Chan and Chris Tiu, who are healing injuries, while Globalport, which traded power forward Kelly Nabong to Meralco for future draft picks, could have former mentor Eric Gonzales back in the reins for this game after head coach Pido Jarencio failed to join the Batang Pier Monday due to severe diarrhea.
Jarencio, who reportedly had been ailing since their 124-102 first loss against San Miguel Beer Sunday at the Cuneta Astrodome, managed to reach NAIA Terminal 2 for the noon flight but was clearly too weak for the long journey. He was put on a wheelchair, brought to the airport clinic for medical assessment and was given intravenous fluids for hydration.
A message from Globalport team manager Bonnie Tan around noon Monday, however, said Jarencio is scheduled to take a flight to Dubai Tuesday morning should the doctors give him the green light to do so.
“Hopefully, okey na siya,” said Tan.
With the Nabong deal over, Globalport governor Erick Arejola said no more trades are forthcoming although talks of the bearded Stanley Pringle moving elsewhere remain a hot topic.
The Kings, meantime, left Manila Tuesday morning and spent a four-hour stopover in Singapore before proceeding to Dubai where star guard Mark Caguioa hopes to lead Ginebra after getting benched in the second half of their Saturday against the Blackwater Elite in Dipolog City.
Caguioa, so far, has kept from commenting on the matter.
Several reach-out events and meet-and-greet sessions are scheduled for the three PBA ballclubs, the latest of four official Dubai ventures by the league.