The old magic displayed by former Filipino basketball stars reminiscent of their heydays during the exhibition game at the Al Gharafa Stadium on Friday night has brought the house down to the delight of the organisers of Emir Cup 2010 basketball tournament.
Every fancy move titillated the Filipino crowd as the veterans of Philippine Basketball Association played against the all-star selection of Pinoy Basketball of Qatar plus an American import from the Qatar Basketball Federation (QBF) as an added attraction to the championship game between Al Gharafa Sports Club and Al Rayyan Sports Club.
A large crowd patiently waiting at the exit gate of the PBA veterans for photo session opportunities made the event staff of QBF in awe as to how much Filipinos from young professionals to the old-timer expatriates still adore basketball even though their followers have been dwindling back home, proof was the declining ticket sales at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, home of the PBA games.
The Filipino basketball fans were after their visiting idols, a mixture of first and second generation legends of their own rights at the height of the popularity of PBA, that spectators which filled the stadium came from large labour camps in the Industrial Area to as far as Al Khor and Ras Laffan communities.
Since most Overseas Filipino Workers already own digital cameras and mobile phones with built-in lens to take stills and video shoots, the pose for posterity’s sake chances were more imminent in such an event like this.
Interestingly, the picture taking with the stars were really meant for an upload to their Facebook accounts.
Inviting Filipino basketball stars during the championship game of the Emir Cup has been a tradition of sorts in recent years to draw more people especially the growing number of OFWs in Qatar, the third largest at an estimated 250,000 population, who are the only avid followers of basketball among the expatriates.
Pat Carido, chairman of PIBAQ which is co-event organiser, said basketball for his countrymen here remain a favourite weekend past time with hundreds watching the continuing year-long action at the PIBAQ tournament participated by 10 competitive teams from sponsoring companies and regional Filipino community groups.
And because of the Filipinos love for such ballgame, Carido said more upcoming basketball events are up in store this year including the FIBA Asia tournament with another all-star Filipino team joining and the GCC Championship among the best of Filipino basketball leagues in Dubai, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.