By Shane McGinley
Dubai promoter failed to pay flight and hotel bills, which the basketball players were forced to cover
The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is to reconsider an agreement to host a series of matches in Dubai over the next five years after some of its teams were left stranded at the airport when the Dubai-based promoter failed pay for their flight and hotel bills following a tournament at the weekend.
Following a match in Dubai on Saturday, hotel staff refused to return passports to Filipino players from the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters basketball team when they tried to check out of their hotel, claiming the event’s promoter had not settled the hotel bill.
The players, along with others from two other teams, were forced to pay the bill themselves in order to retrieve their passports.
“Nightmare in Dubai! Hotel refuses to release all 3 teams' passports as organiser still has $8000 debt. We had to advance d funds," Talk ‘N Text team coach Chot Reyes said in a Twitter post on Saturday.
When the team reached Dubai airport, they were subsequently informed their return tickets home to the Philippines had also not been paid. Players were left stranded in Dubai Airport until last minute replacement flights could be booked, with some players left waiting until the following morning for an available seat.
The PBA has now launched an investigation into how the incident occurred and its chairman Rene Pardo said he was reconsidering a promise to stage a series of matches each season in Dubai over the next five years.
“Definitely, we should have an investigation to get to the bottom of the whole mess,” Pardo told reporters Sunday night. “Yes, as of now, that project [the Dubai matches] is on hold as far as I am concerned.”
In a further Twitter post, Reyes blasted the PBA and the Dubai-based promoter Ramon Pizarras for their handling of the incident: “UNBELIEVABLE how badly d PBA handled this trip, esp since I warned them already about this promoter, coz this is NOT d 1st time this happnd.”
Pizarras later issued a statement claiming low ticket sales and a lack of sponsorship for the event led to the organisers being unable to cover the hotel and flight bills.
"One of my staff found out Thursday night that a box of tickets was lost. The box contains 50 booklets with 25 tickets per booklet. The total amount was somewhere near 100,000-125,000 dirhams,” Pizarras told the Sports 360 newspaper.
“This is the reason why we did not meet the target sales and we had trouble paying for the hotel bills and airline tickets. Another problem is that we had only few sponsors,” he added.