MANILA, Philippines - For the PBA as an organization, being a part of the Ultimate All-Star Weekend is an honor and a privilege.For the PBA players, it’s an experience of a lifetime.
James Yap and company look forward to the event aware that the opportunity to play these NBA stars is as rare as winning an MVP award.
It’s a dream come true for all the PBA stars to strut their stuff on the floor versus their idols Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Chris Paul.
The blockbuster two-game series is ushered in by the 7:30 p.m. match between the NBA stars versus the PBA selection today.
“It’s just unbelievable. I still can’t believe these players like Kobe, Durant, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose are coming over. They are probably the best players in the world and to see them live in action would be a thrill to the fans,” said PBA commissioner Chito Salud.
“Our players will have the opportunity to gauge their skills and talent against the NBA stars. Some of them may well be overwhelmed and awed at the start. But as they warm up and play, I expect them to try their best to match up. In general, I see an exciting game,” Salud also said.
“For sure, we’ll be amazed just seeing them in person. How much more playing them? This will really be a memorable experience,” said Yap.
The two-time PBA MVP winner, however, stressed they will show their stuff and not just let the NBA stars run the show.
“We’ll play with pride, and we’ll see how we fare,” said Yap.
“Actually, we PBA players do imagine playing the NBA stars. We’re curious if we can shoot over a Kobe Bryant or if we can stop a Kevin Durant. We have this opportunity to see it now,” Yap added.
“I think one of the purposes why boss MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) came up with this event is so that we can show to the world the Philippine brand of basketball. We’re taking the challenge,” said LA Tenorio.
“Maybe, it’s like the PBA All Stars; show time at the start then turning into a competitive game later on. But definitely, we’ll not just let ourselves got beat,” Tenorio added.
Tenorio, the Alaska Milk premier playmaker, brims with excitement particularly in getting to match up with Rose and Paul whom he idolizes.
“How I wish I can bring a camera while playing. Nonetheless, I’ll wear my Chris Paul (Nike) shoes and hopefully have it signed by Chris Paul,” said Tenorio.
Some of the local stars have PBA games to play Friday and Sunday but still promise to make the most out of the Ultimate All-Star Weekend.
“I’ll savor the moment,” said Sonny Thoss, the main frontcourt player of the Alaska team playing Talk n Text Friday and Petron Blaze Sunday.
Meralco’s Sol Mercado, Petron’s Arwind Santos and Coca-Cola’s Gary David are thrilled to be in this event.
“I’m super excited I’ll get to play these NBA stars. I’ll have a picture with all of them and I’ll have my jersey signed by all of them,” said Santos, thrilled like a true fan.
“We just watch them on TV. They are future NBA Hall of Famers and we get to play them. It’s really a big source of pride,” said Mercado.
“I’m so happy to make the PBA team and get the chance to play these idols of ours. We’ll get to personally see and feel how really quick, strong and good they are,” said David.
Talk n Text coach Chot Reyes, who helped negotiate with the NBA people, will handle the PBA selection that also includes B-Meg’s Marc Pingris, Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa and JC Intal, Petron’s Alex Cabagnot and Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Talk n Text’s Ryan Reyes, Jason Castro and Larry Fonacier, Air21’s Danny Seigle and Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood.
This marks the first time a group of active NBA players is coming over to play a PBA selection since 1978 when the Washington Bullets included Manila in their world tour after winning the NBA crown over the Seattle SuperSonics.