FORMER NBA star Metta World Peace is interested in and intrigued about the idea of playing for Barangay Ginebra in the PBA.
Unfortunately, his current contract in China with the Sichuan Blue Whales won’t allow the player formerly known as Ron Artest to suit up for the Kings in the coming Commissioner’s Cup.
Artest recently created a stir when he posted a picture of a Ginebra uniform on his Twitter account in which the surname he adopted in China, The Panda's Friend, is written just above his favorite jersey no. 37.
But that’s how far the NBA veteran could go concerning a possible stint in Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league, as per a short chat with Spin.ph
“I can’t say (anything more about it). Artest Management Group asked me not to speak on anything,” he said.
But the 35-year old guard-forward, who once inflicted a rib injury on the great Michael Jordan in practice, expressed excitement over the prospect of a visit the Philippines in any capacity.
“I've never been to the Philippines and I want to go (there) and visit,” he said.
Well known import agent Sheryl Reyes already downplayed the possibility of the 6-foot-7 Artest suiting up for Ginebra in the mid-season conference as his contract with Sichuan Blue Whales in China won’t end until February 1.
The Commissioner’s Cup kicks off on January 27.
“Hindi kasi siya pwede eh. Under contract pa siya sa China, tapos may mga offers din siya to play in other countries,” said Reyes.
“He really wanted to play here, kaso ang daming offers. Tapos yung start ng next conference, alanganin na rin sa schedule niya,” she added.
But so keen is Artest to learn more about Philippine basketball that he said he’s coming up with an article on his blog, MettaWorldPeace.com, about the country’s women’s basketball teams and on up-and-coming Filipino blooded players in abroad.
He even sought the help of Spin.ph in his research.
“I wanted to ask you who the best players in the CBA are. The best and up and coming Flip (Filipinos) players. And (also) about girls’ basketball in the Philippines,” he wrote to this Spin.ph writer.
Artest is also interested to market his MettaWorldPanda sports gear in the country.
Meanwhile, Reyes bared she has already closed a deal with Ginebra’s next possible import.
Other than saying the returning import is still playing overseas, Reyes said Ginebra management has agreed not to make known his identity until after his commitment with the foreign ballclub expires on January 19.
“Hindi pa namin masabi kasi baka ma-hold ang stint niya. Mahigpit kasi ang ibang foreign agents, they don’t want to compromise ‘yung present contract ng kanilang talents,” she said.
Reyes insisted Ginebra’s import is well-known and well-liked by PBA fans.
“Yun ang guarantee ko sa inyo. The fans loved him and the fans will really love him,” she said without giving any more hints.
Ginebra alternate team governor Alfrancis Chua has already asked for the understanding of the team’s die-hard fans as management is trying to finalize a deal with the import.
Chua already scratched out the names of Vernon Macklin, Jamychal Green, and Jerille Bennimon as Ginebra’s import in the second conference.
The Kings have been back in full practice under re-appointed head coach Ato Agustin since January 5.
Ginebra plays Meralco in the main game on opening day at the Mall of Asia Arena.