FEBRUARY 13, 2007
(STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson - Las Vegas will never be the same again after the National Basketball Association (NBA) parades its brightest stars in a glitzy extravaganza this weekend.

The world’s gaming capital is hosting an NBA event for the first time and nothing is more glittering than the All-Star Weekend.

What’s making the 56th edition of the All-Star Game a much-awaited spectacle is its historical significance. The NBA is breaking away from tradition by allowing a city with no NBA home team to host the annual affair.

To get the show on the road, the NBA is launching the All-Star Jam Session at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Thursday. The Jam Session is the world’s largest interactive basketball theme park. Space has been allocated to fit 38 official-size basketball courts or 14 million regulation-size basketballs! Admission fee is $20 for adults, $12 for kids and free for two years and under.

The Jam Session will host the All-Star Celebrity Game, the D-League All-Star Game and practices of the East and West squads. Its hours are 4 p.m.-10 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday and Monday.

On Friday, the first big show comes off the wraps in the Rookie Challenge where the league’s top sophomores take on the freshmen in two 20-minute halves at the Thomas and Mack Center. It’ll be a razzle-dazzle game with no player fouling out and a team entering penalty situation only after 10 fouls. This is the eighth year of the rookies versus sophomores format with the second-year pros enjoying a 5-2 edge.

The rookies are Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani and Jorge Garbajosa, Utah’s Paul Millsap, Memphis’ Rudy Gay, Portland’s Brandon Roy, New Jersey’s Marcus Williams, Charlotte’s Adam Morrison, the Lakers’ Jordan Farmar and Minnesota’s Randy Foye.

The sophomores are Utah’s Deron Williams, New Orleans’ Chris Paul, New York’s David Lee, Houston’s Luther Head, Indiana’s Danny Granger, Charlotte’s Raymond Felton, Golden State’s Monta Ellis, the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum and Milwaukee’s Andrew Bogut.

The rookie challenge will be shown here by Solar Sports on RPN-9 live at 10 a.m. this Saturday with no replay.

On Saturday, the All-Stars will mesmerize the fans in four exciting competitions – the slam dunk, the skills challenge, the three-point shootout and the shooting stars contest – at the Thomas and Mack Center. Solar Sports is airing the four-in-one bill live at 9 a.m. this Sunday with an 8 p.m. replay on RPN-9.

New York’s Nate Robinson will defend his slam dunk crown against Gerald Green, Dwight Howard and Tyrus Thomas. The skills challenge will feature Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Steve Nash and LeBron James while Dirk Nowitzki will face Gilbert Arenas, Damon Jones, Jason Kapono, Mike Miller and Jason Terry in gunning for a second straight title in the three-point shootout. The shooting stars contest will bring back the San Antonio trio of Tony Parker, Steve Kerr and the Silver Stars’ Kendra Wecker.

So what’s in it for you?

As usual, the NBA is giving away prizes to 20 lucky Star readers and All-Star Weekend watchers.

The prizes are four Adidas white NBA All-Star 2007 Las Vegas shirts, four Adidas dark red NBA All-Star 2007 Las Vegas shirts, two red performance NBA All-Star 2007 Las Vegas fleece long-sleeved shirts (with the tonal Star logoman at center neck), eight NBA All-Star 2007 Las Vegas shirts with multi-colored foil and two Adidas red, black and white NBA All-Star 2007 Las Vegas caps. None of the merchandise is available locally and the prizes were flown in by the NBA exclusively for Star readers.

Here’s how to win.

Just write who are the 2007 winners of the slam dunk, skills challenge, three-point shootout and shooting stars competition, which team won and the score of the Rookie Challenge, which team won and the score of the All-Star Game and whom you think deserves the MVP in the All-Star Game and why in 50 words or less.

Entries must be sent in or mailed to the "NBA All-Star 2007," Philippine Star sports, 13th and Oca Streets, Port Area, Metro Manila, by Friday, Feb. 23. Winners will be announced in this column on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Don’t forget to write your name, age, address, occupation (if student, what year/course/school) and telephone number.

More on the All-Star Weekend tomorrow.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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