NBA stars to be invited for Smart Gilas’ Fiba tuneup
JAKARTA—The Smart Gilas national team has scratched its European training in Portugal and Turkey next month in favor of tuneup matches against a team of NBA stars.
The Nationals, who are preparing for the Fiba Asia Championship in September, will soon send invitations to the NBA aces to play at least two games in Manila, according to head coach Rajko Toroman.
Toroman declined to name the NBA players the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas intends to invite for the tuneups. He said the SBP plan has a big chance of pushing through in the face of the impending lockout between the NBA and its players’ union after June 30.
NBA MVP Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, two-time scoring champion Kevin Durant of Oklahoma Thunder and Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers will be invited to come to Manila, according to a highly placed team source.
These stars would form a team together with Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala, Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans, Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat and Minnesota’s Kevin Love, the NBA’s rebounding king, and play against the Nationals tentatively on July 15 to 17.
The source said SBP officials have been burning the lines to coordinate with All-Star Chris Webber.
Webber met recently in the United States with PLDT/Smart chair Manny V. Pangilinan, Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes and Smart Sports head Patrick Gregorio.
“We decided to skip the training in Europe because some of the players are [playing] in the PBA [Governor’s Cup] while some are injured,” said Toroman.
“We’ll probably play an NBA selection but I still don’t know who the players will be.”
Smart Gilas was supposed to train in Lisbon and Istanbul against European club teams ahead of the Asian championship in Wuhan, China, on Sept. 15 to 25.
Meanwhile, Marcio Lassiter flew back to Manila yesterday so that doctors can diagnose the back problems he suffered while training with the rest of the team on Wednesday.
Lassiter collapsed on the floor during practice. Team therapist Albert Rolle said Lassiter complained of acute lower back pains, a condition that could take at least two weeks to heal.
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