Bay Area Dragons to suit up as guest squad in PBA

Published March 21, 2022, 2:44 PM

by Carlo Anolin

The Bay Area Dragons will be playing in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as a guest team for the Governors’ Cup next season.

Bay Area Dragons (EASL)

A mix of free agents coming from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Chinese Taipei will complete the roster for the Dragons in the hopes of becoming the “new face of Chinese basketball.”

The Dragons will be based in Manila during the Governors’ Cup and will also kick off their home games in the East Asia Super League (EASL) beginning Oct. here in the Philippines.

The club will also have an Asian import and two more foreign reinforcements, but the PBA, particularly the Governors’ Cup, only allows one import per team.

“This is a great opportunity for the PBA,” said PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial. “With Hong Kong Dragons competing in the PBA, hindi lang sa income [not only income-wise], it’s also awareness and additional fans, maybe the Chinese community will watch the PBA. So it’s a big opportunity and I just want to thank EASL for joining the PBA in the Governors’ Cup.”

Formerly known as the Phoenixes, the Dragons changed their moniker out of respect for PBA club Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters.

The Dragons will mark the first comeback of a guest foreign team to play in the PBA in 18 years since the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and the US Mail and More Pro-Am Selection competed in the 2004 Fiesta Conference.

The new squad is also the second Chinese club to participate in Asia’s first professional basketball league since the Magnolia-Jilin Tigers took part in the 2003 PBA Invitational.

The Dragons, supervised by GM Liu Quansheng, are set to play a couple of exhibition games in North America, Europe, and Australia as well as in Taiwan’s P.League+ and T1.

Last December 2021, the PBA had inked a partnership with the EASL and joined forces with Japan’s B.League, South Korea’s Korean Basketball League, and Taiwan’s P.League+ to compete in the 2016-founded Asian league beginning October 2022 to February 2023.

PBA chairman Ricky Vargas earlier said two PBA clubs will likely participate in the EASL.