Filipino basketball enthusiasts got a first hand look of how the Philippines' finest basketball superstars measure against the likes of Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose, last weekend.
Dubbed as "The Ultimate All-Star Weekend," the event was held inside the historic Araneta Coliseum on Saturday and Sunday, Manila time. The event showcased the Smart All-Stars composed of current NBA stars led by the five-time champion Bryant and reigning MVP Rose.
The Smart All-Stars played two exhibition games against a selection of the Philippine Basketball Association's (PBA) best players and the Smart-Gilas National Team on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
On the Saturday game, the PBA selection were left in awe and were simply amazed and outclassed as they witnessed the NBA stars put on a show in front of the sold-out Coliseum. Washington Wizard's Javale McGee led the Smart All-Stars with 25 points while Durant buried 3-pointers after another for his 22 points.
The Smart All-Stars won the game 131-105, with seven of its nine players scoring in double digits. Meanwhile, the PBA selection was led by athletic forward Arwind Santos who scored 25 points. The highlight of the game was perhaps the beautiful alley-hoop dunk by Rose from an equally-beautiful pass from Bryant.
On the Sunday game, the NBA stars were challenged by the Smart-Gilas National Team. Nevertheless, Bryant and company escaped with a nine-point win 98-89. The 7-foot McGee scored 16 points but was defended valiantly by Gilas' naturalized center Marcus Douthit.
The game was tight from the start but the Smart All-Stars threatened to break the game wide open in the third quarter, when the Americans led by as much as 21. Gilas responded with a run of their own, cutting the lead to as low as eight, 92-84 with two and a half minutes to go but to no avail.
Gilas was led by streaky shooter Jayvee Casio's 16 points and Douthit who scored 14 points. Veteran guard Dondon Hontiveros finished with 11 points on three 3-point conversions.
The Ultimate All-Star Weekend is now considered as 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.