FORMER NBA star Allen Iverson marks his return to Manila not by playing but to coach a team of former NBA players against a squad of local collegiate stars on Nov. 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
This will be the second visit to the country by the 38-year-old Iverson since 1998 when he was still an up-and-coming star for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Iverson officially retired late last year after a colorful and controversial 14-year career playing for four NBA teams,
“On behalf of Allen and myself, we’re very, very excited and we’re looking forward to coming to the Philippines,” said Iverson’s American agent Gary Moore in a live phone patch greeting before local sports media during Friday’s official press launch of the PCWorx-sponsored All In Basketball charity game for Gawad Kalinga at the NBA Cafe in SM Aura, Taguig City.
“Ever since we met with Sheryl Reyes a couple of years ago, back when we were in Indonesia, we thought long and hard and have looked forward to come there and see everyone there in the Philippines,” he added.
Reyes said Iverson will be calling the shots for Ball Up team bannered by ex-NBA players Steve Francis and Eddy Curry.
Still, it’s up to `The Answer’ if he plans to suit up and play for the crowd, Reyes added.
“As you all know, he’s (Iverson) being groomed by the Sixers’ assistant coach. He’s got a lot of basketball clinics, though one of the main things he’ll do here is share his knowledge in basketball,” Reyes said.
“But right now, he’s focusing in sharing his talent to everyone. And what we don’t know about him is he has a big heart, so maybe, just maybe, he’ll, make some surprises on Nov. 5,” added the lady player agent, who handles PBA stars Asi Taulava and Willie Miller.
Aside from Francis, the second overall pick in the 1999 Draft, Curry, making up the Ball Up squad are And1 Street Ball players led by Air Up There, Bone Collector, G Smith, The Professor, AO, and Mr. Afrika.
The local college stars currently being considered to play against Iverson’s team are UAAP’s Jeron Teng (La Salle), Kiefer Ravena (Ateneo), Gelo Alolino (National University), Mike Tolomia (Far Eastern University), Arvin Tolentino (Ateneo), Arnold Van Opstal (La Salle), Roi Sumang (University of the East), and Charles Mammie (University of the East).
Meanwhile, NCAA stars include Jiovani Jalalon (Arellano), Olaide Adeogun (San Beda), Andrei Paras (San Beda), Javee Mocon (San Beda), Dioncee Holts (Arellano), and Bradwyn Guinto (San Sebastian).
PBA Legends Allan Caidic, Benjie Paras, Renren Ritualo, Marlou Aquino, and Jerry Codinera are also being considered to reinforce the collegiate team.
Iverson made his first visit to the country in August 1998 as part of his Asian tour in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Hong Kong to promote the sport of basketball.
Aside from Philadelphia, the 6-foot, 165-pound guard also played for Denver, Detroit, and Memphis in a career that saw him ranked 19th in the all-time career scoring list with 24,368 points.
But he will best be remembered for leading the Philadelphia 76ers to the 2001 Finals where they lost to eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in the title series, 4-1.