Metta World Peace, 37, says he can still play as import in PBA if he decides to come back
“I thought of playing in the Philippines two years ago. I’m still in pretty good shape and I really like to play basketball. I’m not gonna count it out,” says former NBA player Metta World Peace. Jerome Ascano

EVEN at the advance age of 37, Metta World Peace doesn’t see his basketball career coming to an end yet.

So much so, the mercurial former NBA star isn’t discounting the possibility of playing in the Philippines, perhaps as an import in the PBA.

Although uncertain if he’s still going to play this year or postpone it to next season, Metta said his love for the game hasn’t waned and remains in very good physical condition.

“I thought of playing in the Philippines two years ago. I’m still in pretty good shape and I really like to play basketball. I’m not gonna count it out,” said the NBA veteran when asked about suiting up for any local ballclub here during his brief visit in Manila over the weekend.

The player formerly known as Ron Artest is listed as 6-foot-7 and could be eligible to play as import in the Commissioner’s Cup, where height limit of 6-foot-9 is allowed.

Metta played 18 seasons in the NBA for teams such as Chicago (which selected him in the first round of the 1999 draft), Indiana, Sacramento, Houston, LA Lakers, and New York, played for Sichuan Blue Whales in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), and the Pallacanestro Cantu in the Italian League.

He last played professionally with the Lakers in the just-concluded NBA season.

[See Metta wants Fil-Am son to experience with Gilas what was denied dad by Team USA]

Despite the layoff, Metta said it wouldn’t be difficult for him to make a comeback.

“If I take off a year, I’ll be able to come back. I play basketball every day,” said Metta, who’s now back home in Los Angeles following a 24-hour stay in the Philippines.

“It’s not hard to make it to an NBA team for me, it’s not hard to make a Filipino team or a European team,” he added. “I can do it in my sleep. I think I’m gonna play until about 45 even if I run my (own) business.”

The New York City native said his decision to take his act to China and Italy was born out of his desire to play before basketball fans outside of the U.S.

“I really enjoy playing in front of fans I’ve never had the chance to play for,” the product of St. Johns stressed. “The reason why I play in China was because I want to play in front of Chinese fans because they’ve been so supportive over the last couple of years. And then I went to Italy and played in front of the Italians. It’s not (a lot of) money, but it’s a great experience.”

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He hopes to do the same in the Philippines, which he said is a ‘basketball country.’

“If I do come here and play one day, I’ll be looking forward to the experience,” said Metta, who has a basketball playing son, Jeron Artest, from former partner Filipina Jennifer Ruth Uy Palma. “ I just don’t know when.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos