LEBRON James saw a glimpse of the talent level the Philippines has to offer as he had a front-row seat to the exhibition between past and present Gilas Pilipinas standouts at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The Gilas Young Blood, which the NBA superstar reinforced down the stretch, showed its potential as it walloped the Gilas OG, 92-71, in the friendly that highlighted the Manila leg of the Strive For Greatness tour.
The retired Jimmy Alapag dusted off his sneakers as he bannered the Gilas OG cast that also featured PBA veterans Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar, Paul Lee, LA Tenorio, Jared Dillinger, and Gary David.
The oldies, though, couldn’t assert their experience as the Gilas cadets, led by Kiefer Ravena, Ray Parks, and senior team members Matthew Wright and Raymond Almazan, coasted to the victory in the game that had 30-minute running time and no-fouls were called.
Roger Pogoy, Baser Amer, Raymar Jose, and Mike Tolomia were also members of the Young Blood side that likewise featured Batang Gilas stalwart and teen wunderkind Kai Sotto.
“Round of applause to all the players who played today: the young bloods, the old school,” James addressed the crowd after the game. “You guys are unbelievable.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers cornerstone then thanked his fans for coming out to watch him visit the country for the third time.
“I’m happy to be here, spending this time with you, guys, throughout my busy schedule, but there was no way I wasn’t going to come back here to Manila this year,” James said. “And I’m here celebrating this time with you, guys.”
Then he hinted of another return to the Philippines.
“Thank you for being a part of the tour. Hope you guys continue to welcome me, because I would love to come back as well,” he concluded to the delight of the crowd.