MANILA, August 26, 2003 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson  - Three former Duke University teammates are playing as imports in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Third Conference starting Aug. 30 and they’re reuniting on unfriendly terms.

Alaska’s Chris Carrawell, Barangay Ginebra’s Ricky Price and Sta. Lucia Realty’s Nate James may be buddies off the court but when the buzzer sounds, it’s all business on the floor. Their paths will eventually cross because they’ve got the same, single objective–to win the championship.

The trio played on the same Blue Devils teams in 1996-97 and 1997-98 under coach Mike Krzyzewski. After Price left the Duke campus in 1998, Carrawell and James played together two more years. James played out his fifth year of eligibility without Carrawell or James in 2000-01 when Duke posted a 35-4 record to capture the NCAA title.

All three played major roles at Duke whose other products include such stars as Grant Hill, Elton Brand, Shane Battier, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Corey Maggette and Chip Engelland.

Carrawell, 25, was picked on the second round by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2000 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft but never got to play in the big league. Neither James nor Price was drafted.

Carrawell is only the second Duke player ever to compile over 1,000 points, 300 assists and 100 blocked shots in his career. The first was Hill. As a senior in 1999-2000, he averaged 17.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists to earn Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Year honors.

Last year, Carrawell hit at a 21.6 point clip for Alaska in the Commissioner’s Cup where the Aces finished fourth. He’s a veteran of the National Basketball Development League and International Basketball League. Carrawell has played in Italy, Puerto Rico and Lithuania.

Price, 27, endured ankle problems as a Duke freshman in 1994-95 to notch double figures in 11 of 27 games enroute to averaging 8.1 points and 24 minutes. The next season, he hit his stride, scoring 14.2 points an outing and hitting 39.3 percent from three-point distance. He shot twin digits in 25 of 31 contests and at least 20 points in six. His clutch triple was the decisive basket that beat Maryland and another late trey forced overtime in a game against Georgia Tech. Price compiled 20 points, six rebounds and two assists in 37 minutes against powerhouse North Carolina.

In 1996-97, Price hurt the wrist in his shooting hand and his scoring clip fell to 9.4. He sat out the first half of the 1997-98 season on academic suspension and was reactivated only to average 2.7 points and eight minutes as a senior.

Price is known as a long-armed, solid defender with a quick first step and a sweet jumpshot. He’s been described as an explosive offensive player, an excellent finisher, a leaper and a slasher.

A globetrotter, Price has taken his sneakers to leagues in Slovenia, Hungary, Netherlands, France, Lebanon, Venezuela and Hong Kong. He’s fresh from averaging 11.8 points for the Great Lakes Storm in the Continental league.

James, 26, is the first ACC player to be part of five regular season champion teams and played on Duke teams that won 117 games, third in the standings behind Battier and Christian Laettner.

James battled through injuries in both knees, ankles and thumb at Duke. He added an extra year to his varsity career after playing in only six games in 1996-97 due to a high ankle sprain and being classified as a medical redshirt.

"Nate plays with an intensity you can’t teach," said his high school coach Stu Vetter of Prospect Hall, Maryland. "He’s a very mature young man who makes his team play hard."

Carrawell paid tribute to James when he said, "everybody can’t be the man but when Nate’s been called upon to come through with some big game statistics, he’s been there."

Krzyzewski said James was his best wing defender, a good long-range shooter, surprisingly tough offensive rebounder and most importantly, the player who gave the most consistent effort on the team. "No one was more stable than Nate," he added. "Night after night, he gave us a solid effort."

James averaged 12.3 points as a parttime starter in Duke’s title season.

Before flying to Manila, James led the Hickory Nutz to the Carolinas Basketball League crown, averaging 25 points and seven rebounds to cop MVP honors in the process.

Carrawell, Price and James are expected to raise the level of competition to new heights in the PBA Third Conference.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved