NBA-PBA duel erupts at the Big Dome

Filipinos ready for battle

By Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines - Does Dominique Wilkins still have some spring in those legs to show the Filipinos what the ?Human Highlight Reel? is all about?

?Big Shot Bob? was the name Tim Duncan gave Robert Horry, who has seven championships in the National Basketball Association. Question is: Will the NBA-PBA Legends clash even be close to require his heroics?

Vlade Divac was known as one of the headiest centers in his NBA generation, and at 7:30 Friday, the 7-foot-2 Serb, slowed down by age and excess poundage after retirement, will no doubt play it wise against his PBA counterparts.

And Tim Hardaway, widely regarded to be the inventor of the crossover dribble, should be the fittest and most exciting from among the ex-NBA stars who will lock horns with the PBA at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.

The biggest NBA scorer of them all?Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?made the trip, but won?t be seeing action. He will help Rory White call the shots against the PBA team, which will be led by two of the biggest legends of its own in Alvin Patrimonio and Allan Caidic.

?Come and watch, it?s going to be fun and exciting,? said Wilkins, a two-time Slam Dunk champion and the biggest NBA star to play here since Shaquille O?Neal last decade.

The NBA Legends will be beefed up by young talents coming from the D-League, including former PBA import Billy Thomas. The others are Derrick Dial, Marcus Habbard, Chris Ellis, Lanny Smith and Russell Robinson.

Aside from Patrimonio and Caidic, Ronnie Magsanoc, Benjie Paras and Kenneth Durem-des are the other legends in the PBA roster.

They will be joined by Wynne Arboleda, Dondon Hontiveros, Marc Pingris, Jay-R Reyes, Arwind Santos, Asi Taulava, Sonny Thoss, Rico Villanueva and Joseph Yeo with national coach Yeng Guiao calling the shots.

?We prepared as hard as we can in the short time we had to practice. I do think we can give them a good fight while making the game fun and enjoyable at the same time,? Guiao said.

Speed is key

A day before the historic match, Coach White also told INQUIRER.net that he is looking forward in giving the audience the NBA experience.

?I know that basketball here is really good. You have very quick players here. It?s gonna be a challenge for us,? said White.

?They?re small but they can use their quickness and get to the basket real easy and I?m sure that?s what they?re going to do to beat our players up and down the floor because as you know, we?re bigger,? he added, referring to the Philippine squad.

Jabbar, meanwhile, talked about the importance of basketball fundamentals.

?If you start playing basketball competitively at a young age, you develop instincts about the game and you have the understanding of the game. Then, it becomes your second nature,? the Lakers legend said in an interview.

With Izah Morales, INQUIRER.net

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