Legends Are Made Of These
The Score by Patricia Bermudez-Hizon
Special to Yahoo! Southeast Asia
They came, they saw, they conquered. The NBA Legends came to the Philippines not knowing what to expect, and left with an image of a basketball-super crazed country with a lots of great talents, and millions of passionate fans. They were treated like rockstars as they will forever be legends!
The NBA Asia Challenge 2010 carried with it a promise of bringing world-class hard-court entertainment to the Philippines with a cast of super NBA stars namely Gary Payton, Chris Webber, Mitch Richmond, and Glenn Rice mixed with local cage luminaries Allan Caidic, Ronnie Magsanoc, Atoy Co, Benjie Paras, Alvin Patrimonio and Vergel Meneses. Young NBA D-league stars and the future legends of the PBA also mixed it up in the sensational hardcourt showdown that did more than just amaze.
After almost a week’s worth of promotional activities from press and media days, to doing an NBA Cares book reading session, mall events, sponsor visits, and just interacting with the Filipino fans, the NBA legends got it on!
Payton boldly said their Red team would win because they had 2 great shooters in Rice and Caidic. Knocking down 5 booming treys in last year’s NBA Asia Challenge gave Caidic such notoriety that since day 1, the visitors have been buzzing about the Triggerman. In fact, during the welcome party for the NBA, when Caidic was introduced to Payton, he got so excited that he got all the other legends who were on the other side of the room to come over and meet the man with the guns.
And come game night, the Triggerman was not at all gun-shy dropping one three pointer after the other! A definite show stopper, Caidic had a shooting clinic with 17 three point bombs and ended up with 52 huge points in the Red Team’s 177-167 victory. There was hardly any defense displayed apart from the giddy locals trying to disrupt their favourite NBA legend, to heighten their once in a lifetime experience.
Also stealing the show was the 59 year old Fortune Cookie Atoy Co who last played at the Big Dome 5 years ago during the storied Crispa-Toyota reunion! He had a hard time getting his groove but getting the NBA legends, even from the other team, set him up enthralled the crowd. He put his hand up victoriously when he made his first basket after some 38 attempts (okay so that’s not accurate but he sure took a whole lot of shots)!
Former NBA Rookie of the Year and one of the best power forwards in the NBA in his time Chris Webber said he had a great time playing his first game in two years, hoping that the fans had as much fun as they did and expressed his high respect for Philippine basketball. “Truthfully I really wasn’t surprised with how good Filipino players were. I’m going back and will tell everybody about my experiences here. Triggerman was incredible. I wasn’t surprised with the talent of these guys… They’re all so good. You got guys out there dunking and jumping, from Spiderman to Trigger man to everybody. Everybody really showcased their talent… Fortune Cookie I tell you, to be able to play the game at his age is a blessing and an honor. To see Fortune Cookie out there shooting and he’s still going.. One time he shot and said ‘check up Chris’ I said, okay (insert laughter here). Fortune Cookie’s the man too.”
An Olympic Gold Medalist, NBA Champ, also a former ROY and one third of the famous Run TMC with Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond also echoes that he had a blast. “It was just fun to get out here. This is an honour to actually play in this building where Ali and Frasier started the ‘Thrilla in Manila’. I never thought I’d actually get to see it let alone play in it. This is a historical moment for us and we can tell our kids now”.
Known for his tenacious defense hence the name “the Glove” Gary Payton was all about entertaining. Because of a torn calf muscles which he’s played through almost his entire career, he saw limited minutes. But of all, he was the one going overtime in terms of interacting with fans with his colourful and vocal presence. Yes there was a bit of trash talking going on, and there was also a part where he took the camera from the sideline cameraman, and stole a shoe from one of the kids playing a game during breaktime and threw in his own shoe in the mix. He was hilarious!
In the press conference, he admitted that he was surprised at how knowledgeable Pinoys are about basketball when someone answered his supposedly difficult trivia question about Glen Rice and his scoring record in an NCAA tourney. Even Rice said he doubted someone would know the answer. “But someone quickly came up and said 184 points in a single tournament, and I was impressed. I think you guys know more about us than our own family does.”
Known for his pinpoint sweet shooting and accuracy, being 8th in NBA history in 3pt field goals made, you know that Glen Rice does not play. He did say that he was in it to win it, and come 2nd half, he found his rhythm but enjoyed feeding the ball to Caidic even more. They had a three point shooting contest where Caidic won 5-7, but that Rice said “from here on now, you’re gonna get a show”. And a show it was.
“All I can say is Trigger, Trigger, Trigger.. He’s the man!” Rice also added that come playoffs, “Trigger, make sure your phone can be reached”.
Reposted From Patricia Bermudez-Hizon Of Yahoo! Southeast Asia