Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Middle East Tour - Dubai part 1

Hello again!

I'll try my best to recall the events that took place in our Dubai stint. It's been more than 3 weeks since we arrived at Dubai so forgive me if i skip out on some details.

For those who do not closely follow the Smart Gilas team, we went to Dubai to participate in the 21st Dubai International Tournament, where the best Middle Eastern professional clubs take part in. The professional teams that joined are comprised mostly of National team players reinforced by 3 imports. However, only 2 imports are allowed to play simultaneously inside the court at a time. Most of the teams had 2 or 3 imports. We had only one import because this import would be the candidate for naturalization in preparation for the Asian Games in November and the FIBA Asia Championships in 2011, where teams are allowed to field in one naturalized player. Sad to say, our lone import Jamal Sampson played not more than 45 minutes COMBINED in all 7 games that we played there, missing 3 games including the 2 most important ones. The reason for this is, according to him, a sore knee.

So after competing in two grueling duels in Qatar, we took a one hour flight across the Persian gulf into Dubai. We had 3 days to prepare before the start of the tournament. Our first exhibition match was against the Pinoy All-stars based in Dubai, composed of ex-PBA and semi-pro players like Jojo Manalo, Don Yabut of FEU, etc. The match was held in the Al-Nasr gym, which was flocked by Filipinos. It was a fun game highlighted by dunks by Japeth Aguilar. Smart Gilas broke the game open in the 4th quarter as the Pinoy All-stars ran out of gas towards the end. Our 2nd exhibition match was against the UAE National team, where we lost (Can't remember the final score) due to, i would say, overconfidence. It was a serious lesson for us! UAE finished 12th place in the FIBA Asia Championships in 2009 in Tianjin while the Philippines finished 8th, out of 16 teams.

Before the tournament started, we are able to squeeze in some time to tour the city which has recently been undergoing an economic crisis. UAE is composed of 7 states, or emirates as they call it, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah. The capital and the second largest of the emirates is Abu Dhabi, who also provided a $10 billion bailout for the collapsing Dubai.

Dubai boasts of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, formerly known as Burj Dubai, which stands at 828m high! Surpassing Taipei 101. There's also the very unique reclaimed land area that is called "The Palms" and they say it can be seen all the way from the moon, like the shape of a palm leaf, of course. It also houses the Jumeirah resorts that built the world's only 7-star hotel, the Burj Al-Arab (The sail-like building with photo above). Room rates start from $2,500 a night, depending on the season and can go up to $30,000 for the suites. Incredible! I'm glad enough to have stepped inside the jaw-dropping, marvelous, magical lobby, thanks to our very gracious and warm family friend, Imelda Kunkler, who took me around the various Jumeriah resorts including the Madinat (resort with its own lake) where we had wonderful Chinese food with her husband Robert despite his extremely busy schedule.

Thank you also to GMA7 for taking us around, especially for allowing us to experience snow in the middle of a desert! Most of the players were able to experience playing with ice/snow for the first time inside the Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates. The entire team had so much fun wearing complete snow gears and enjoying the rides. It was an amazing 3000 sq. meter snow park where one could go skiing, snow boarding, sledding, etc. The temperature was -2 degrees celsius. We couldn't last too long so we proceeded to the largest mall in the world (according to them), the Dubai Mall, which had a spectacular view of the Burj Khalifa.

I want to thank also all the Pinoys we met along the way who made our trip truly memorable! I felt that I was simply traveling in another one of the many Philippine provinces because of the sheer number of Filipinos all over the place, in the hotels, malls, gyms, etc. To all the Pinoys in Dubai, you certainly made us feel at home! Salamat!



Here's another picture of the world's tallest building at night with it's own version of the dancing fountain like that of Bellagio in Las Vegas.

That's it for now. I'm getting too sleepy. I will blog more about the tournament proper when i find the time. In the meantime, feel free to comment :)

31 comments:

Artschool Girlfriend said...

It's always nice to read your posts.. it's almost as if we were there.. almost : ) Next time, a video footage won't hurt, hehe.

Am looking forward to watching your stint in the FIBA Championships. Go Team Pilipinas!

...and nice touch in highlighting the COMBINED minutes JS played. Hehe.

jonx_29 said...

hi chris!wow after almost months of vacation?hehe.. you finally made it..i kinda miss reading your blogs..thanks for sharing your middle east adventures w/SG, i felt prang andun n rin ako..
I just wanna say ofcourse a BIG CONGRATULATIONS TO SMART GILAS!!i never doubt that you could make it but i was really impressed,though coach T said that he will be happy w/just quarterfinal stint..all locals vs. 3 imports hmm,,you really show a BIG HEART for that game.i watched some of the highlights in youtube,though its kinda blurred but wow,the 3 pt shootout was just amazing!
w/that bronze medal tucked under your team,i hope some of your critics will have an open mind now..those who said that you'll have a hardtime competing internationally because you're too young,inexperienced,blah,blah,blah.that win will shut their big,fat mouth up!hehe,d ako galit,asar lng..joke!
you know what,since you're reading this and i hope you'll accept it..whenever you heard negative comments or doubts against your team..ito na lng isipin m..you can tell them in the face if you can..hehehe..
"MGA ETCHOSERONG PALAKA LANG KAYO!"
haha,i'm just kidding chris i know you will not dare say this,pero pabiro pwede!
just keep it up,i read that you'll have 80 games abroad to participate,not a busy year for you!
all of your fans,including ME,and other believers of SMART GILAS are always here to support and pray for all of you guys!
keep the faith,play w/heart!
i hope you don't mind my "short" comment,hahaha!(=

sheilalyn(= said...

i don't know where to watch your games but i'm happy that you're doing what you love. (: and i miss your posts! welcome back, chris! God bless you. (:

mike ^^ said...

great story chris...looks like enjoy talaga ung trip nyo sa dubai...

my cousins who work there got a chance to watch a couple of games... they told me na tumakas sila just to mingle with all the pinoys who watched the game...sobrang dominated daw ng pinoy crowd ung mga arabs...


well, goodluck sa mga susunod nyong international trips and sana maayos na ung totoong roster nyo for preparation sa Asiad.


btw, got to watch ung tune-up with san miguel, u were sick pala.


goodluck!!! :)

mike ^^

Anonymous said...

You guys really made us proud here in Dubai! Were looking forward to see the Smart Gilas team in the futute tournaments here...Good job! all the best to your team:)

Emil

Jerick said...

we're so proud of you Kuya Chris. :)

keep up the good work. :)

-John Jerick Orduña
(bubblyjhay08 in Twitter)

jasmine said...

Ang ganda pala sa dubai. I want to go there too.

jasmine said...

Ang ganda pala sa dubai. I want to go there too.

kalliepepper said...

sounds like you don't believe Jamal Sampson's reason for missing out on 3 games! but thanks for the entry Chris, I missed reading on your blog and I could only get updates from you on twitter. & also, congratulations. the Gilas team did well.

looking forward to more of your entries. Happy Chinese New Year and Heart's day in advance.. ♥♥♥ ^_^ ♥♥♥

Kali said...

Wow. I've really dreamed about getting to that palm-shaped island ever since I heard about it. It's just amazing.

Congratulations to the Smart Gilas Team. Your success may not be that widely-publicized but for us who know and followed the games, we are really very proud.

We'll continue to support and pray for you to the FIBA Asia Cup, and who knows, the London Olympics!;)

Ya said...

Hi Chris. Get enough rest. Take care always. Much love.

Erine said...

The post was.. uhhmmm... kinda.. incomplete?? the pics backed it up anyway... I love the snow pic.. hehehe... who was that guy beside you??

You seemed to enjoy the trip...
Can't wait for the next post..


Xiao!

weng10282000 (",) said...

hi chris... :)

just wanna say congrats to you and Smart Gilas for 3rd place in 21st Dubai International Tournament. great job indeed at least that you could make it towards success, and bring glory and honor to our country especially all Filipinos. MABUHAY ANG PILIPINAS!!!

you're such truly a great inspiration to all and goodluck on your next tournaments..

God bless and always be there for you. have a wonderful day... :)

mar said...

Yey!...glad that you were able to update us just soon after your first blog 'bout your Middle East trip.

I love the pics..=D ...and based on those pictures, I'm pretty sure you really enjoyed your trip to Dubai. It's great that you are able to have fun while doing something you love - playing basketball. Congratz once again!

How I wish I could be able to watch one of your games live. Is there a way that I can be updated with the Smart Gilas' game sched? Uhhmmm, let's say, your exhibition games here in Manila?..tnxtnx

God speed Chris...keep shining! =)

yil said...

hey Chris!

nice blog. it's worth the wait! i like the pictures. :)

buti ka pa, you personally saw the Burj Khalifa. UAE is one of the countries i'd like to visit if given the means.

is it true that you're going to leave the Kapuso network? Hope you won't transfer. You're doing great as a host. Keep it up!

thanks for sharing with us the trip. I'll be waiting for the next part.

xoxo

Anonymous said...

i love the last part of your blog...wherein you appreciated the support of all the kababayans here in dubai...you are most welcome! :) goodluck on your next game..my prayers are with you...

Kae said...

That picture from Ski Dubai really made me smile. It's good to see that the team was still able to tour the city despite your crazy sched! We all thought that you guys spent your free days just practicing or resting. Haha. I'm sure glad I was wrong! It's nice to see the team enjoying these little bonding moments. :)

It looked like you enjoyed your stay. The Burj Al Arab is really, really beautiful! You're very lucky, only very few people are able allowed inside the hotel.

About Sampson, well quite frankly, I'm happy that Gilas is letting him go. A sore knee is NOT an excuse. Me and several other Filipinos were VERY disappointed when we saw him flatly rejecting Coach Toroman's order to go in and help during the final quarter of the Riyadi game. I mean he's not going to be there for a very long time, just for two minutes or so! A person like that with so many excuses is more of a liability than an asset for the team. I mean, you guys were working your butts off in that game and to see him just sitting there, not caring whether the team wins or not, irked a lot of our kababayans. An injured knee is very easy to cure, but there are no cures for people who live on excuses. I'm sorry if my comments are a bit harsh, just sharing my two cents. Haha.

Hope you guys will participate in next year's Dubai tournament! I'm sure the organizers will invite you again. You guys have SO MANY FANS! Napuno yung stadium ng mga Pinoys, they even overpowered the Lebanese fans! :)) Hopefully Gilas will be a lot stronger next year so that the fans can finally witness the long awaited match between Gilas and Iran! :D

Kae said...

That picture from Ski Dubai really made me smile. It's good to see that the team was still able to tour the city despite your crazy sched! We all thought that you guys spent your free days just practicing or resting. Haha. I'm sure glad I was wrong! It's nice to see the team enjoying these little bonding moments. :)

It looked like you enjoyed your stay. The Burj Al Arab is really, really beautiful! You're very lucky, only very few people are able allowed inside the hotel.

About Sampson, well quite frankly, I'm happy that Gilas is letting him go. A sore knee is NOT an excuse. Me and several other Filipinos were VERY disappointed when we saw him flatly rejecting Coach Toroman's order to go in and help during the final quarter of the Riyadi game. I mean he's not going to be there for a very long time, just for two minutes or so! A person like that with so many excuses is more of a liability than an asset for the team. I mean, you guys were working your butts off in that game and to see him just sitting there, not caring whether the team wins or not, irked a lot of our kababayans. An injured knee is very easy to cure, but there are no cures for people who live on excuses. I'm sorry if my comments are a bit harsh, just sharing my two cents. Haha.

Hope you guys will participate in next year's Dubai tournament! I'm sure the organizers will invite you again. You guys have SO MANY FANS! Napuno yung stadium ng mga Pinoys, they even overpowered the Lebanese fans! :)) Hopefully Gilas will be a lot stronger next year so that the fans can finally witness the long awaited match between Gilas and Iran! :D

Bianca said...

Amazing. I've been reading your blog for 2 years now and I enjoy every post you have. I admire the places you've been to and the people you get to meet! You're only lucky guy!

badlongon said...

Yo Chris. Thanks for giving us a "tour" of Dubai for being a sportscaster/analyst of your game in UAE. You're the best not only because you gave us the behind the scenes of your stints but you also provided us in-depth analysis of what's going on in your games. Normally, it's hard to write that but in your case, whew, you did it with so much ease.

I'm so proud of TEAM PILIPINAS because you all put so much heart in every game regardless if you win or not. The good thing about you guys is because you always learn from those mistakes and you strive hard to give honor to our country. The team is so much blessed to have you, not only as a player but also being the team captain . Great job Chris! Thanks for leading a good example. God bless you and TEAM PILIPINAS.

Anonymous said...

hello Chris. thanks for blogging your sight seeing adventures in the beautiful Dubai. Wow it shows that you and the entire team of Gilas really enjoyed your stay there. Nice pictures. Waiting for your next blog on what have happened during the tournament. Keep safe and healthy always. Godspeed.

Andrea :) said...

Hi Chris!

Good to hear from you again. Anyway, just want to share something about "The Palms". We've discussed that in school and based on the video that we watched, it took around 5 years for that island to be built. They even made a lot of revisions of the island's design before finally coming up with what they have now. hehehe :)

Advanced Happy Chinese New Year!

Sabria said...

Thank you for this one, Chris, plus the pics to boot! Keep the blog posts coming, they make us happy. :)

Haven't been to Dubai, but now I look forward to visiting the place cos of what you've shared to us.

Your basketball career has really leveled up big time, and for that, congratulations. Continue soaring, King Eagle! (Now I really miss that Chris wearing Ateneo jersey #17. Awww.)

Much love. Take care. :)

dnmndc said...

Hey Chris. How did it feel seeing the world's tallest building the first time? It looks majestic even in pictures. Thanks for "showing us around Dubai". :-)

jcs said...

Hi Chris!

Welcome back & Congratulations!

I was able to keep track of the Gilas team via net. I sooooooo believe in the team!

Nice game Chris, syempre along with JVee,Lassiter, Ballesteros & Mac B!

I will continue praying for the team and looking forward sa FIBA!

God Bless!

GO SMART GILAS TEAM!

p.s. good to read your blogs again despite your very busy sched.......looking forward to reading your future entry =)

Trisha Tan said...

kahit hindi napalabas ang lahat na games ninyo sa Dubai & Qatar ng "GMA 7 " dito sa pilipinas at least napasyal naman nila ang buong team . Salamat na din sa kapuso network kasi mukhang nag enjoy ang buong tropa ng Smart Gilas .

Anonymous said...

Great post, Captain! Good to see that you had fun despite the very grueling Dubai Tournament. I'm looking forward to Part 2! :)

Go GILAS!

priceless said...

hello mr. chris! before anything else, i would like to congratulate YOU and the entire Team for one good fight you've given for the benefit of our country! Cheers to that! :)
it's always nice to read updates from you. it's as if your reader was also in the place you're describing! Thank you for sharing some of your photos too!
I watched some of your games but missed many of it because of things need to be attended first and so I watched some through youtube updates na lang kahit na blurred minsan, ok na din kesa wala....
Anyway, i know that you have still many stories to tell about your game and escapades in Dubai, can't wait for it! :)

God Bless always!

Anonymous said...

hi chris!!

it was very nice to hear alot from you...and it was very kind of you to take some of your time to write post about what you had experienced...

i am hoping for more post from you..
i really don't know where to watch your games but hopefully, i'll have a chance for it..
Just always remember that whatever you did..God will always be by your side..
and don't forget to take care of yourself too..you deserve to unwind.,
well..this maybe for now.GOOD LUCK!!pray always..
-janine

Anonymous said...

I hope you can continue to maintain and update this blog. I think our countrymen (and women) are thirsty for news and updates about Gilas.

In the quarters game, there was an OFW who had cable and web streamed the game and there were 200 guys lined up for it at 12 midnight. I think his computer crashed. hehe.

Kaya sana din ma televise na ang games niyo. Kahit exhibition palagay ko madaming manonood.

andrei said...

Hello...I always check your blog when I have time.. And I really find your life cool...travel around the world with the sport you love...

Hope you'll always make us updated of the Team pilipinas' standings!!!