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NBA Asia Challenge: Horry eager to suit up for fans
By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) Updated August 08, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - A rare 10-minute phone-patch interview with NBA superstar Robert Horry was the highlight of yesterday’s press launch for the 2009 NBA Asia Challenge at the Dusit Hotel in Makati.
Horry, who won seven championships with the Rockets, Lakers and Spurs in 16 NBA seasons, gamely fielded questions from scribes from his home in the US, and said he can’t wait to visit the Philippines.
“I know it’s a place where basketball is biggest in Asia. I know it’s a beautiful country and I know I have a lot of Filipino fans,” said the 6-foot-10, 240-pounder who turns 39 on Aug. 25.
He’ll be in town for the Sept. 11 NBA Asia Challenge, where he will team up with fellow NBA superstars Vlade Divac, Tim Hardaway and Dominique Wilkins against Pinoy legends.
Horry was asked by The STAR if he knew who Manny Pacquiao is, and he said yes.
“I’m very impressed with him,” said the NBA superstar of the best boxer in the world today, “He’s such in great shape and I’d love to see him train or spar. Boxing is such a great sport because of the conditioning – giving it your all three minutes each round.”
Pacquiao is among the world’s greatest athletes today, and just recently he was in the US shooting a commercial for a top sports apparel firm with Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. He also counts some Hollywood stars among his fans.
The NBA team will have the great Kareem Abdul Jabbar as coach and will include players from the NBA Developmen League. On the RP side will be retired PBA superstars Avin Patrimonio, Allan Caidic, Benjie Paras and Ronnie Magsanoc, and some active players.
The game, organized by Solar Sports led by William Tieng and Peter Chanliong, will be played at the Araneta Coliseum.
“This is the biggest and most ambitious NBA project ever in the Philippines. This is the largest contingent of NBA talents to come to the Philippines. This one raises the bar,” said NBA Asia senior director for business development Edward Winkle.
Commissioner Sonny Barrios of the PBA said based on the guidelines, he can tap four to five PBA former stars and eight to 10 current players.
“I’m looking at our current Mythical Selection because we don’t want to be too strong,” said Barrios as Winkle, the NBA executive, and Tourism Undersecretary Cynthia Carrion, applauded from their table.
“I asked Benjie (the 1989 rookie-MVP in the PBA) if he was fit because I’m looking for someone who can match up with Kareem Abdul Jabbar. And he said yes. Our players are very excited,” said Barrios of Paras, now a comedian actor.
Even Horry, one of only nine NBA players to have won seven or more championships, is high with excitement.
“Yeah, I got excited when I heard about the other players,” said the player who loves hitting the big shots during big games. He said he’s now enjoying life with his kids.
Also coming over to thrill the fans are The Dunking Divas (a group of gorgeous women who can electrify the crowd with their trampoline-aided dunks and skimpy outfit, and Sly the Silver Fox, the famous mascot, of the New Jersey Nets.
“This is the kind of project NBA commissioner David Stern and I were discussing when I met him a few years ago,” said Barrios of the coming event where ticket prices range from P300 to P2,500.
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