MANILA, Philippines -- The PBA has received an invitation to hold games as part of the Expo 2020 event in Dubai, but the league had to beg off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This much was confirmed by PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, who said that it was "impossible" for the league to participate.
According to a report on the PBA website, the invitation was extended by Kevin Brown, the planning and management vice president of Expo 2020. The league was invited for a January 27-30 playdate at the Expo Sports Arena, with three to four teams set to compete in a mini-tournament.
However, a spike in the COVID-19 cases in the country put a wrench in those plans, as the PBA was forced to put its Governors' Cup on hold.
"Iniimbitahan tayo ng Dubai Expo, sabi nila baka pwede tayong maglaro. Sabi ko, imposible," Marcial revealed in an appearance on "The Chasedown" recently.
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 this year. It was originally scheduled for October 20, 2020 to April 2021, but had to be postponed due to the pandemic.
According to Marcial, organizers asked if the PBA can participate by March, but they had to turn the invitation down again.
"Sabi ko, teka muna, kasi may quarantine papuntang Dubai, pagbalik may quarantine na naman, at hindi natin alam 'di ba, kaya nga tayo nag-iingat eh," he pointed out.
"Pero dalawang beses na tayo sinusulatan ng Dubai Expo na sana, two to four teams ang maisama natin doon, eh 'yun nga, as of now, January, hindi. Binago nila, kung pwede sa March, sabi ko baka hindi pa din pwede," he added.
Marcial stressed that he was grateful for the invitation and is looking forward to possibly holding another PBA game in Dubai in the future.
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 constraints.