By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter
After 14 years, Filipino basketball players in the GCC countries will get to compete in a much-awaited tournament that will be held on April 18 and 19 at Al Gharafa Sports Club in Qatar.
Teams from Qatar, the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) and Bahrain will participate in the GCC All-Filipino Basketball Club Championship 2013.
As they are not yet official members of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), teams from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait can join the event only next year. Incidentally, some of the best Filipino basketball players can be found in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia.
Pat Carido, president of the Pinoy Basketball of Qatar (Pibaq), said the tournament was formerly known as Philippine Friendship Games. The last edition of the meet was held in Dubai way back in May 1999.
Stating that they would host the event for the first time, Carido urged various Filipino organisations in Qatar to support the competition. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) can watch the two-day tournament for free, he added.
The schedule of the games can be viewed on its website and Facebook page.
Some of the athletes have been part of professional leagues, such as the Philippine Basketball Association and Philippine Basketball League, as well as annual school-based competitions.
“It is the biggest and most prestigious basketball competition in the Middle East, which is taking place after 14 years,” said Carido.
Many of the players are also OFWs from GCC countries who have pursued their passion for basketball abroad.
Pibaq has received invitations for three consecutive years from the three other participants (Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain) to join their events. However, Carido rued, the international competition clashed with their schedule due to the Ambassador’s Cup.
After the Licensee Accreditation of Coaching and Referee seminar on April 8-9, 2012, Carido had urged Bahrain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi to seek accreditation from SBP Overseas prior to the event.
Supported by the Qatar Basketball Federation, Pibaq recently concluded the Subaru Cup 2012 season, which was enjoyed by hundreds of spectators.
It is also considering reducing the number of teams in the coming season in an attempt to make the tournament more competitive.