Thursday, September 10, 2009

NBA Legends in Manila



NBA Legends (left to right): Dominique Wilkins, Tim Hardaway, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rory White, Robert Horry, Vlade Divac

By Charley Bautista-Braga
Yahoo! Philippines
Five of the greatest players in NBA history are in Manila for an exhibition game against the PBA All-Stars, for the NBA Asia Challenge 2009 on Friday, September 11 at the Araneta Coliseum. These NBA Legends include Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Tim Hardaway, Vlade Divac, Dominique Wilkins and Robert Horry, who are pitting themselves up in an event, dubbed as the most ambitious and largest ever basketball event in the country.

The NBA Asia Challenge features the NBA Generations team, made up of the NBA Legends and the NBA Development League players in an exhibition game against the PBA All-Stars which include Alvin Patrimonio, Allan Caidic, Ronnie Magsanoc, Benjie Paras, and Kenneth Duremdes, to name a few. Also accompanying the NBA Legends are The Dunking Divas, the dance troupe of the New Jersey Nets who’ll be on hand to provide on-ground entertainment, and Sly the Silver Fox, the team’s mascot.
NBA greats Robert "Big Shot Rob" Horry and Vlade Divac

Yahoo! Philippines chatted with NBA greats Robert “Big Shot Rob” Horry, and Vlade Divac, and this is what they had to share to basketball fans:

On the Philippines:

Divac: I’m very excited to be here. I heard that the Philippines is definitely a basketball country, and people really love the game here. This country has had an impact on my career. When I was 10 years old, my national team won the World Championship title in Manila in 1978, so that’s when I started playing basketball. I started when I was 10, and was drafted by the NBA when I was 21, 11 years later.

Horry: I unfortunately haven’t been able to watch any PBA, but I’m thrilled at how popular the game is here. We were just in Korea, and the thing about Asian basketball players is that they’re great guys, very skilled. I would say the one thing they have against them is size, and unfortunately you can’t teach size. They’re very skilled players though.

On basketball, and being a clutch player

Horry: It’s been fun playing with those guys, because those guys are the megastars of the team. Sometimes you’re not considered in the same breath, but you know those guys, they also value what you could do on the floor with them. These are the guys who are going to get talked about when the game ends, and they trust you to get those shots nailed down.

On the U.S. and playing pro basketball

Divac: I played four years professionally in my country, and the Lakers drafted me for the NBA. It was tough for a couple of years, playing with a different style of game. I also didn’t speak any English, but on the other hand I was lucky to end up with an organization like the Lakers, so they helped me to make the transition much easier. My advice to other imports is to spread the feeling of really loving the game. When you do that, everything else is easy. Also, do the mental work because everyone can shoot hoops, everyone can jump around, but it’s those little things that are difficult which can help distinguish you from the rest.

On luck, and career

Horry: I don’t think my career was about luck. It was about joining a team at the right time, like any kind of match or relationship, it was about finding the right match. So when you find the right kind of match, anything can happen. When I first joined the league, I thought Houston was the best match for my skills and from then on it just went on to better things. When I look at every team I’ve played, it was a great match for my talent and it was a great match for the team. Of course, there’s always going to be superstars in the team, but they’re not going to be superstars without adding that one “link,” and I always felt that I was that missing link that would make the team stronger.

Divac: I always believe in doing better, always moving forward. Everyday is a new day.

Words for people wishing to enter professional basketball

Divac: Maybe in your dream you can’t be the best basketball player, you can’t play in the NBA but you can find a way to be attached to the game in some different way where you can make a difference.

Horry: You know, you have to learn how to play the game the correct way. You have to go out and do everything, whatever it takes–walk, crawl or run – just practice the skills, the game know-how. Practice a great amount of time, and maybe you’ll get better. Also, you need to pit yourself against a team or other people who’ll help you stretch your talent. When you stretch your talent, you’ll have that experience to make yourself better.

***

About Robert Horry: Robert “Big Shot Rob” Horry’s career highlights include playing with the Houston Rockets and winning back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995, and again with the LA Lakers from 2000 to 2002. Horry is only one of nine players to win seven or more NBA championships, and only one of three players to win NBA Championships with two different teams in consecutive seasons.

About Vlade Divac: A Serbian national, Divac played for the Yugoslavian National Team and led his team to win an Olympic Silver Medal in Seoul, Korea, until he was pirated by the LA Lakers, Charlotte Hornets, and the Sacramento Kings. He ranks fourth in Lakers history with 830 blocked shots, and joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players in NBA history to amass 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, and 1,500 blocked shots.

Tickets for the first-ever NBA Asia Challenge are now on sale at Ticketnet outlets at SM Malls, or online at www.ticketnet.com.ph. Ticket prices are at P2,640 (Patron), P2112 (Lower Box), P1320 (Upper Box A), P792 (Upper Box B) and P264 (General Admission). For more information, please log onto www.nba.com/asiachallenge2009.

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