NBA All-Stars against Smart Gilas five?By June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA—Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant may bring their fabled cage acts to Philippine shores if negotiations to bring an NBA All-Star Selection to play against Smart Gilas Pilipinas succeeds.
Sources said officials of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has already forwarded an offer for the NBA Stars to meet the Gilas five in exhibition matches set on July 25 and 26 at the Araneta Coliseum.
Rose, the reigning NBA MVP from the Chicago Bulls, and Durant, the NBA’s back-to-back scoring king from the Oklahoma Thunder, may be joined by slam dunk king and Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin of the LA Clippers, the source added.
The tuneup matches, the source said, is a treat for fans courtesy of SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan, who is celebrating his birthday on July 14.
Expected to join Rose, Durant and Griffin are Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Andrei Iguodala of the Philadelphia 76ers and Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat.
According to the source, the invitation was sent after the start of the NBA lockout last week following the failure of team owners and players to reach a new collective bargaining agreement.
Reports said that Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes has been spearheading the negotiations with former NBA star Chris Webber. The two met when MVP’s group went to the US recently to explore plans of buying into the Sacramento Kings franchise.
Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman welcomed the prospect of playing the NBA stars, saying the Nationals need many international games prior to their stint in the Fiba Asia Championship on Sept. 15-25 in Wuhan, China, which offers the lone continental ticket to the 2012 London Olympics.
“I hope it pushes through. We need all the games we could get after our trip in Europe was canceled,” said Toroman.
The PH five recently canceled planned European training camps in Portugal and Turkey this month due to injuries that plagued the team and the unavailability of its PBA reinforcements.
Asi Taulava of Meralco, Dondon Hontiveros of Air21 and TNT’s Jimmy Alapag and Kelly Williams have decided to play in the ongoing Governor’s Cup, which is expected to end until the second week of August.
Smart Gilas played with only nine players in capturing the Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championship in Jakarta last month.
Shooting guard Marcio Lassiter, who hurt his back prior to the tournament, is expected to return to practice within the week.
The team came from a series of tuneups in Cebu City, Mandaue and Iloilo City last week and handily beat the Cebu Ninos twice and the Mandaue Landmasters in a three-game sweep.
The Nationals will also compete in the Jones Cup on Aug. 6-14 in Taipei and compete in one or two more foreign tournaments before going to Wuhan.