MANILA, Philippines - Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant is reportedly joining a stellar NBA selection, including two-time scoring champion Kevin Durant and reigning MVP Derrick Rose, coming over to play a two-game blockbuster series against Smart Gilas Pilipinas and a PBA selection at the Araneta Coliseum late this month.
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar, who is in town to kick off his five-city Nike Asian tour, was included in a roster of NBA stars who will play in the series to be held for the benefit of the MVP Sports Foundation (MVPSF) to uplift Philippine sports and help develop Filipino athletes.
Organizers will officially announce full details of the giant cage event Friday at the Meralco Lighthouse inside Meralco Complex in Ortigas, Pasig.
The two-day basketball extravaganza, presented by the MVPSF, Smart, Meralco and TV5 with Maynilad, MNTC, MIPC and Philex Mining as other sponsors, coincides with the birthday celebration of basketball chief Manny V. Pangilinan on July 14.
Also in the NBA roster are Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma Thunder, Darko Milicic of the MinnesotaTimberwolves, Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings, DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers and Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat.
Milicic’s teammate Kevin Love and Andrei Igoudala of the Philadelphia Sixers are no longer part of the team as earlier reported.
The two-day event became possible following the NBA lockout, making the NBA stars available for the Manila visit.
Sources said Talk n Text coach Chot Reyes is in charge of negotiations with the NBA group led by former star Chris Webber who had played in an exhibition game against a PBA selection early this year.
The Nationals hope to use the game as one of their alternative buildups to their cancelled trips to Lisbon, Portugal and Istanbul, Turkey as they prepare for the Fiba-Asia Championship slated Sept. 15-25 in Wuhan, China.
Injuries to a number of players prompted Smart Gilas to cancel their Europe trips.
The Nationals are scheduled to play in the Jones Cup from Aug. 6 to 14 in Chinese Taipei and one more tournament, perhaps in China, before plunging into action in Wuhan where a lone berth to the 2012 London Olympics is at stake.
A PBA source confirmed the league is forming a selection to play the NBA stars.
James Yap, Marc Pingris, Rabah Al-Hussaini, Arwind Santos, Mark Caguioa, LA Tenorio, Gary David and Gabe Norwood are among players tipped to make the PBA selection to be handled by Reyes himself.