IN LINE with its partnership with the East Asia Super League (EASL), the PBA has opened its doors to the Bay Area Dragons of Hong Kong, China as a guest team in the next Governors’ Cup hostilities.

Players from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei and a foreign reinforcement will banner the Dragons as they duke it out with the country’s top pro clubs in the import-flavored competition of Season 47.

The Dragons will be the first squad from overseas to vie in the PBA since the UBC Thunderbirds and the US Mail and More Fil-Am Selection competed in the 2004 Fiesta Conference.

“It’s a great opportunity for the PBA to have the Hong Kong Dragons compete here,” PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said during yesterday’s Zoom presscon with EASL CEO Matt Bayer and CFO Henry Kerins. “Not just income-wise, it also helps us in terms of creating awareness and drawing more fans, especially from the Chinese community.”

The Dragons will be based in Manila from August to around March 2023 as they see action in the Governors’ Cup as well as EASL’s inaugural tournament kicking off in October.

Like the Greater China representative Dragons, two PBA teams, to be picked in a lottery involving the top four finishers of the Philippine Cup, will plunge the EASL as the pro league’s bets.

Mr. Marcial said the 12 PBA clubs, including the franchise that will eventually take over from Alaska, will be in a win-win situation having the Chinese opponent in the Governors’ Cup.

“It will work both ways. They will learn from us, we will learn from them. They will see the Philippine style of basketball and we will see how the Chinese plays,” said Mr. Marcial.

While in the Philippines, the Dragons will be open to playing Gilas Pilipinas in scrimmages, according to Mr. Bayer.

“We can work that out,” said Mr. Bayer. “Let’s get Gilas better and let’s make a huge commercial impact as well. Let’s keep giving fans what they want, which is more exciting basketball after this horrible pandemic.” — Olmin Leyba