MANILA, JULY 22, 2011
(STAR) By Joey Villar - Majority of the star-studded NBA team playing a PBA selection and Smart Gilas Pilipinas this weekend in a blockbuster two-game series dubbed the Smart Ultimate All-Star Weekend at the Araneta Coliseum are expected to hit town on separate flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco today.

MVP Sports Foundation executive director Chot Reyes wrote in his Twitter account (coachot) that almost everyone were accounted for after they arrived in Los Angeles and San Francisco yesterday and are on their way to the Philippines to play in a super show pitting them against a PBA selection on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Smart Gilas at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

“And they’re off! Movement of the stars from all over. Congregating in LA (Los Angeles) and SFO (San Francisco). En route to our beloved land!” twitted Reyes, who will coach the PBA squad.

“BTW (By the way), their big name agents are coming as well – Pelinka of Kobe, Goodwin of KD, BJ Armstrong of DRose – truly a heavy cast!,” added the Talk N’ Text mentor.

Five-time champion Kobe Bryant, meanwhile, will come in from Shanghai, China where he made the last stop of his Nike-backed Asian Tour and arrive on Friday for his second appearance in the country in over a week. He played eight minutes for the UAAP All-Star team against Smart Gilas in the kickoff leg of the Asian Tour.

But focus will be on the arrival of reigning MVP Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, two-time scoring champion of the Oklahoma Thunder and former Rookie of the Year Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets.

Durant, also a former ROY awardee, was the ninth and last minute addition to the team while shot-block artist Javale McGee of the Washington Wizards replaced DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers, who begged off due to passport problems.

The NBA stars are scheduled to embark on a sight-seeing tour of the country, including a stop in Boracay.

Meanwhile, scalpers continue to make a killing through the internet.

Tickets, which were sold as early as last week, are being bidded out online with some lower box and patron tickets being offered from P10,000 to P20,000 each.

Even General Admission tickets were being put online with holders guaranteed of courtside view of the action through the Big Dome’s four-sided high de LED screen.

As earlier reported, the prices of tickets in the black market have quadrupled with the upper box tickets worth P800 now being sold at P3,600.

Patron and lower box tickets are pegged at P5,500 and P3,800, respectively.

The other members of the NBA squad are Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings, Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers, James Harden of the Oklahoma Thunder, and Derrick Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The event is sponsored by Smart, PLDT, Meralco, Maynilad, TV5, Metro Pacific Tollways and Investment Corp. and Philex Mining.

Smart Gilas, to be handled by Rajko Toroman, will play the NBA stars on July 24.

James Yap and Marc Pingris of BMeg, Mark Caguioa and JC Intal of Ginebra, Arwin Santos and Rabeh Al-Hussaini of Petron Blaze, Ryan Reyes, Jason Castro and Larry Fonacier of Talk N’ Text, Sonny Thoss and LA Tenorio of Alaska, Sol Mercado of Meralco, Gary David of Powerade, Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine and Danny Seigle of Air21 will comprise the PBA team.

Talk N’ Text’s Kelly Williams, Jimmy Alapag and Ranidel de Ocampo, Meralco’s Asi Taulava and Air21’s Dondon Hontiveros will suit up with the Nationals, who are on the thick of preparations for the FIBA-Asia Championship in Wuhan, China.

Smart Gilas’ other members are naturalized Marcus Douthit, captain Chris Tiu, co-skipper Mark Barroca, JV Casio, Mac Baracael, Marcio Lassiter, Japeth Aguilar, Chris Lutz, Dylan Ababou and Jason Ballesteros.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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