KENNETH Duremdes was the best player among the ex-PBA stars who saw action against a team of former NBA stars on Wednesday in a one-off exhibition match at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 1998 league MVP emerged as the biggest winner as well.
Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen sought out Duremdes shortly after the match and handed him his No. 33 playing jersey after the talented forward led all scorers with 29 points in a game the NBA greats won, 112-93.
The 38-year-old Duremdes said he left like a kid all over again after his idol's gesture, aware that he is the envy of most people inside the venue.
“Para akong bata, sobrang tuwa ko,” he said, unable to hide his joy. “Ang daming nanghihingi sa akin, pero siyempre hindi ko naman ibibigay.”
He plans to frame the jersey which he chose not to wash and have it occupy a prominent place among his pieces of memorabilia.
Initially, Duremdes said Pippen refused the first time he requested for the jersey. “Sabi niya sa akin, may pagbibigyan na raw siya,” recalled the native of Koronadal City.
During the game, however, 'Captain Marbel’ turned back the hands of time and apparently earned the former Chicago Bulls star's respect. There were several plays where he was able to elude Pippen’s defense.
“Kapag nga tumitingin siya (Pippen) sa akin tatawa-tawa na. Then later, lumapit na, tapos sabi sakin 'Ok, you can get this one later,” said Duremdes.
In the midst of all the pandemonium inside the playing court after the match, Duremdes sought out just one player.
“Hinanap ko siya agad kasi baka may makakuha pang iba. Yun pala hinahanap niya rin ako. Paglapit sa akin, hinubad niya na yung jersey sabay hagis,” he said. Duremdes then asked Pippen to sign his drenched No. 19 jersey.
Teammate Jerry Codinera was also fortunate enough to acquire the uniform of 18-year NBA veteran Cliff Robinson in a pleasant gesture by one top defensive player to another.
Still, there’s nothing like getting it straight from one of the 50 Greatest NBA players of all-time.
“Iba na ito, Scottie Pippen ito, e,” Duremdes said.