MANILA—The recent Manila visitor will be back in a couple of weeks for the country’s biggest NBA show yet.
Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar Kobe Bryant heads back here to lead an NBA selection that also includes New Orleans Hornets’ star point guard Chris Paul for a pair of exhibition games on July 23 and 24 at the Araneta Coliseum.
Bryant, who recently kicked off his five-city Asian tour here, and Paul headline the blockbuster event that will pit the NBA stars against a PBA selection led by B-Meg’s James Yap and Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa and the Smart Gilas national team.
The event dubbed as the “Ultimate All-Star Weekend” is also bringing in Minnesota Timberwolves’ Derrick Williams, Sacramento Kings’ Tyreke Evans, LA Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan and Oklahoma City Thunder’s James Harden.
Chot Reyes, executive director of the MVP Sports Foundation, was one of the key forces behind the negotiations and tagged the event’s cost as “between expensive and very expensive.”
“The idea of this happening started when the lockout happened,” Al Panlilio, president of the MVP Sports Foundation, said in a press conference yesterday at the Big Dome. “The objective is to raise funds in line with our vision of uplifting sports.”
Reyes also hinted on bringing two more NBA stars to complete the eight-man lineup, which had been floated the past days as reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma Thunder gunner Kevin Durant.
The basketball coup also signals the possible acquisition of an NBA team by Manny V. Pangilinan, the telecommunications tycoon and president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
Panlilio said Pangilinan, who had flirted in buying the Sacramento Kings the past months, had been “approached” by the Philadelphia Sixers and Atlanta Hawks.
“Our preference are West coast teams,” disclosed Reyes.
Tickets for the historic event are pegged as low as P350 (general admission) to as high as P5,500 (patron). Call Ticketnet at 911-5555.
The PBA players will go up against the NBA stars on July 23 at 7 p.m., while Smart Gilas takes its turn the next day at 1 p.m.
“This is a rare opportunity and the PBA will not let this pass,” said PBA chair Rene Pardo.
“We have the chance to see the best against our own; to gauge our skills against the best,” said PBA commissioner Chito Salud.
Rounding up the PBA selection are Talk ’N Text’s Ryan Reyes, Jason Castro and Larry Fonacier, B-Meg’s Marc Pingris, Ginebra’s JC Intal, Petron’s Arwind Santos, Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Alex Cabagnot, Alaska’s Sonny Thoss and LA Tenorio, Meralco’s Sol Mercado, Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood and Air21’s Danny Seigle.
“It’s going to be tough definitely,” said Gilas assitant team manager Butch Antonio. “We’re hoping that we can match up well, if not win, at least keep the game close.”