Tag: Philippines

JaVale McGee of the Wizards gets ready to throw one of his jerseys into the crowd before a USO "Hoops for Troops" event at Schofield Army Barracks in Wahiawa

JaVale McGee may become citizen of, play for Philippines


Last summer, while NBA big men were dropping like flies, Wizards center JaVale McGee came close to being part of the Team USA squad that won gold at the FIBA World Championships. But he didn’t make the cut, Tyson Chandler did.

However, if McGee were on the Philippines national team, he would be the best player — by a long shot — and make them more of a threat in a relatively weak reagion. That is one basketball crazy in that country (remember the exhibition tour this summer) so for him to play for the national would make him a big star in the Asian market.

And that is the goal as they are working to make him a naturalized citizen, reports the Philippines Star (via Eye on Basketball).

If everything falls into place, Smart Gilas Pilipinas will have the Washington Wizards’ seven-foot center JaVale McGee as naturalized player for the next FIBA Asia championship.

McGee had been in the country twice in the last four months and, in his last visit, expressed willingness to be part of the Philippine team vying for a slot in the 2014 World Championship.

The Philippines team recently came in fourth at the Asia Championships and Olympic qualifying tournament, behind China (the winner), Jordan and Korea. That did not get them a berth in the Olympics. Part of their challenge was matching up with the size of other teams, guys like Yi Jianglian of China.

McGee doesn’t bring a reliable midrange game or the basketball IQ that tends to thrive in international ball. But what he does bring is more size and athleticism than anyone he will face in those tournaments, so he could have big games in the paint. They just better not expect it every game from him. Just ask the Wizards.

How the Kobe, Rose Philippines exhibition came together

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Being rich has its perks.

That essentially is how the two big exhibition games in the Phillipines last week that included Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul and four other NBA players came together. It was because Filipino tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan — called MVP by most — decided he wanted it to happen for his birthday.

In a fascinating story at Grantland by Rafe Bartholomew, he traces how the entire “Ultimate All-Star Weekend” event got pulled together outside of the NBA. It’s an idea that had floated around for a while but needed a lockout to solidify everything.

(Well known Filipino coach Chot) Reyes and Pangilinan’s plan sat on the back burner until June 30, when Commissioner David Stern announced the start of the NBA lockout. The players began exploring their overseas opportunities, not just to make an extra buck but to show team owners and the NBA brass that they could earn money outside of the league. “When the lockout was announced,” Reyes said, “We said, ‘this is it — this is the sign.'” Reyes gave East-West a list of the players he wanted, starting with Rose, Durant, and Blake Griffin, and Scott and Espaldon started calling agents to check the players’ interest, availability, and what it would take to bring them to Manila for a weekend.

MVP and his people have disputed the report that key players got $400,000 for the weekend’s two games, but it wasn’t cheap to do this. And getting Kobe cost the most.

With a budget in mind, Pangilinan convened a meeting of the executives of his group of companies to present his plan. The board approved, but added one additional requirement: To ensure that the Ultimate All-Star Weekend would be a “blockbuster,” Reyes said, the board insisted on signing a superstar. They wanted Kobe Bryant. East-West got in touch with Bryant, who was touring China for Nike. Kobe, it turned out, was willing to play, but his fee, plus the cost of flying his entourage to Manila by private charter, kicked the overall budget into another level of the stratosphere, according to Reyes. “We really had to think long and hard about that,” he said, “but in our organization, when we decide to do something we will think long and hard for maybe one hour or two hours and then say, ‘Come on, let’s get it done.'”

Ticket prices were kept down (you could get a seat for $8, courtside tickets were $129) and because of that Pangilinan’s companies lost money on the event. But the Philippines are basketball fanatics, and this event was a monster success. That builds goodwill with people, and that’s something companies cannot put a price on. Plus, the uniforms for the event had the company logo across the chest, and the event was a huge television event as well. It was marketing.

A good time was had by all. There are perks to being rich.

Kobe, KD, Rose top Filipino national team Smart Gilas

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In the second game of the Filipino All-Star Weekend in Manila, the result was pretty much what you’d expect. A more experienced team gave the NBA stars (dubbed the “Smart All-Stars”) a tougher contest, but it wasn’t enough, because, you know, that whole “best players in the whole world.” From the Philippino Stars:

After overpowering a PBA selection team with a never-ending barrage of slam dunks and highlight reels the other night, Kobe Bryant and his Smart All-Stars found a quicker and more game Smart Gilas Pilipinas but still fashioned out a 98-89 win yesterday to complete a sweep of the Smart Ultimate All-Star Weekend.

via Kobe’s stars dazzle, tantalize – The Philippine Star » News » Sports.

Afterwards, the biggest star, Kobe Bryant, a virtual god in the Philippines (and China, and to people who love tacos) met another virtual god there.

So yeah, pretty good weekend for the Filipino basketball scene. Bryant led the way with 17, while Durant and McGee both scored 16. You have to wonder if with a little more planning, they could have found a US television partner. The usual suspects are out from a fear of the NBA getting upset, but you’d think someone would want to showcase NBA players playing.

Instead, it was just a fleeting moment, to see how wonderful it would be to have Kobe Bryant and JaVale McGee on the same team.


But hey, by January, you’ll be missing JaVale McGee pretty badly.

Kidding. Again.

Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant show off in Philippines exhibition

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Saturday, NBA basketball was back. Okay, not really. But NBA players (or former, I guess, considering they’re locked out) played in the Philippines on Saturday in an exhibition against the PBA All-Stars. It was a huge event, with a raucous Filipino crowd chanting and cheering everything. Honestly, it was louder than about 95% of all arenas in the NBA. Let’s just say Kobe doesn’t get that kind of reception from his crowd, in-between taco chants. From the Philippino Star:

In return, Kobe Bryant and company, playing under the banner of SMART All-Star team, put on a show to remember, drubbing the PBA stars, 131-105, in the kickoff game of the Ultimate All-Star Weekend at the full-packed Araneta Coliseum tonight.

The game’s result was a foregone conclusion but the crowd waited with bated breath just every move the NBA stars made.

They were more exciting and more adorable up close and personal.

Also awed and thrilled were the PBA stars.

via NBA stars treat fans to memorable show – Home » Other Sections » Breaking News.

JaVale McGee led the way (who saw that coming?) with 25 points, including about seventeen missed layups and one coast-to-coast jam, while Kevin Durant has 22 and Derrick Williams 19. Derrick Rose had only nine points, but then, he didn’t have to score after this jam.

And not to be outdone, KD and James Harden got in the act:

A great time was had by all and another exhibition is set for tomorrow. It should serve as a reminder that these are the best players in the world, and they are irreplaceable. Their talents only last the length of their careers and we should appreciate them while we can.

Ahem… owners… ahem.