APART from providing adrenaline-pumping plays, Ball Up StreetBall All-Star guard Larry Williams said the team’s brief visit to the country gives them an opportunity to give something back to underprivileged class in Metro Manila.
“The most exciting thing for me is, I made some research on the Philippines, and I know there’s a lot of poor people here who are not gonna be in our position. But we try to get as close to them (poor people) as we can because we know we’re the same as them,” Williams shared during the press conference of the 'All In' Basketball Charity Event held at the NBA Café in SM Aura, Taguig on Tuesday.
Williams, who is known by his streetball monicker 'Bone Collector,' said he believes their stature as well-traveled streetballers is a platform in itself which they can use to spread hope to less fortunate people.
“I didn’t have much as I grew up and God placed us in a position to help these people,” he said. “It’s not about what we can give them, but it’s about what we can do as far as making sure, we give them the right message. And that message for me is you don’t have to be somebody or be born somebody, but you just have to put the work and effort behind that comes from the grace above.”
Williams also considers it a blessing to have NBA legend and basketball idol Allen Iverson as the Ball Up team’s coach when they collide with the UAAP-NCAA Selection on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 5-foot-11 Bone Collector, a Rucker Park legend back in the United States, has scored 65 points while facing 'The Answer' some years back.
But the Ball Up veteran guard admitted much of his basketball style, including his ankle-breaking crossover move, was inspired by the six-foot Iverson himself.
“Once I saw Iverson, I walked, I dressed, I talked, and I got tattoos like him now. He became the (Michael) Jordan for me at that point in my basketball career,” said Williams proudly.
“I can say honestly, he was my biggest inspiration outside of Michael Jordan because I was closer to him (Iverson) than Michael Jordan. I couldn’t dunk, but I could definitely break ankles,” he added.
Meantime, Williams’ teammate Taurian Fontenette promises to electrify the crowd with highlight plays and rim-rattling dunks.
“I’m a dunker so I like to bring a lot of highlight plays and stuff like that to the game. I bring a lot of excitement to the game, so it’s kinda like an All-Star game,” said the 6-3 Fontenette, nicknamed 'Air Up There.'
Even Gary 'G-Smith' Smith vowed to do everything he can to ensure basketball fans will get their money’s worth.
“I’m an athlete, so what that incorporates is, I get up and down the court, block shots, get dunks, jumping on the floor for loose balls, and also sacrificing my body when necessary to obtain the ball so we can do what we do best,” explained G-Smith, who is now in his second year with Ball Up.
The three electrifying streeballers are members of the seven-man Ball Up Streetball All-Stars who’ll be carrying Team Gawad Kalinga in charity basketball event.
The Ball Up team will be joined by former PBA stars Jerry Codinera, Willie Miller, and Renren Ritualo as they battle the UAAP-NCAA selection Team PCWorx, which will be reinforced by former NBA big man Eddy Curry and former Barako Bull import DerMarr Johnson.