The city’s sports fans will be delighted by the news that Manny Pacquiao is finally visiting Dubai. What they might be surprised about is that he’ll be here for basketball, not boxing.
Having been defeated by Floyd Mayweather back in May in Las Vegas, in what was billed as the ‘Fight of the Century’, the iconic Pac-Man’s first visit to the emirate will be to indulge his other sporting passion – shooting hoops.
Pacquiao plays for and coaches the Mahindra Enforcers, a pro team in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). The team will play in the annual PBA Philippine Cup on Saturday November 7 at Al Nasr Sports Club, Oud Metha.
Carlo Zozobrado, operations manager at Clique Events, who are organising the series, says that he thinks the sporting community will come out in full force for the event. “We are expecting not just the Filipino basketball and boxing fans to watch Pacquiao, but we’re sure a huge chunk of Dubai’s sports-loving residents will also come to see one of the best sportsmen in the world,” he said.
The diminutive player may have incredible reach in the ring, but, at 1.66m, could his height be a disadvantage? He’ll most likely be one of the shortest players on the court in November. And will the shoulder injury he sustained before his bout with Mayweather (which meant he was added to Mahindra’s injured list) come back to haunt him?
At this stage, only two things are certain. First, the organisers have confirmed Pacquiao will definitely play in Dubai. Second, only a fool would underestimate a man with a sporting legacy, stamina and sheer fire power up there with the all-time greats.
Pac’s men will take on Alaska Aces on Friday November 6 and Barangay Ginebra will play Alaska Aces on Saturday November 7. Bring it.
From Dhs100. November 6-7, 4.30pm-10pm. Al Nasr Sports Club, Oud Metha, www.clique-events.co (04 552 1614).