Fresh from his casual Manila visit last Tuesday, five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant has scheduled a return trip to Manila, this time to play in two exhibition games against a selection of the country's finest basketball superstars.
Earlier this week, the 32-year-old Bryant arrived in Manila on board a private jet, signaling the first leg of his five-city Nike Asian Tour. Bryant visited a densely-populated Gawad Kalinga Community in Taguig and shared his basketball tips with some of the GK Community's underprivileged kids.
According to the Inquirer, the Los Angeles Lakers star heads back to Manila together with several NBA players including all-star point guard Chris Paul, to play two exhibition matches against the Smart-Gilas Pilipinas National Team and a selection composed of current stars of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA.)
The said event, which was dubbed as the "Ultimate All-Star Weekend" will take place at the historic Araneta Coliseum on July 23 and 24. Tickets for the Ultimate All-Star Weekend range from 350 PHP (General Admission) to 5,500 PHP (Patron.)
Grand-slam seeking PBA Coach Chot Reyes, who is expected to coach the PBA selection, said that the NBA selection will also include Sacramento Kings' Tyreke Evans, LA Clippers' DeAndre Jordan, Oklahoma City's James Harden and this year's second overall pick 6-foot-8 forward Derrick Williams.
The PBA selection will be led by B-Meg's two-time MVP James Yap and Ginebra's veteran gunner Mark Caguioa while Smart Gilas will be led by their captain Chris Tiu along with streaky shooters JV Casio and Marcio Lassiter and naturalized center Marcus Douthit.
The NBA selection is limited to six, as of this writing, but Reyes hinted that they are currently negotiating with two more NBA stars – reigning MVP Derrick Rose and OKC's lanky scoring machine Kevin Durant.
The Ultimate All-Star Weekend is expected to be the biggest NBA event in the Philippines since 1979 when the PBA team led by Philippine basketball legends Robert Jaworski and Mon Fernandez lost to the then NBA Champions, the Wes Unseld-powered Washington Bullets, 123-133.