THE NBA selection led by coach John Lucas and reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, left the country early Wednesday morning following the cancellation of its scheduled two-game friendlies against Gilas Pilipinas.
The entire team was originally set to square off with Gilas in two benefit games in an event dubbed `PLDT Home: Last Home Stand,’ but settled for just a practice drill on Tuesday night in a disappointing development that drew negative reactions among thousands of basketball fans that trooped at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With the Wednesday game cancelled as well and with no more business to attend to, the NBA stars took the first available flight out in the morning, sources said.
“They left early Wednesday morning kasi wala na naman daw silang (NBA players) ibang itinerary dahil na-cancel na yung game for today,” a source from the posh Edsa Shangri-La Hotel told Spin.ph on Wednesday.
Aside from Leonard and Lucas, other members of the selection are Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Houston Rockets’ James Harden, Detroit Pistons’ Brandon Jennings, Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler, Los Angeles Clippers’ Matt Barnes, Toronto Raptors’ Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, and Kyle Lowry.
The players were prevented from suiting up after NBA officials barred them from playing, saying the two-game exhibition match was an “unsanctioned event.”
Thousands of irate fans who bought expensive tickets to watch the game at the Big Dome erupted in a chorus of boos upon realizing that all they could watch were NBA stars and Gilas players performing practice drills on court.
Shortly after the event, PLDT head and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) Manny V. Pangilinang apologized to the paying public in a hastily-called press conference in a bid to appease the fans, who felt they were victimized by "false advertisement."
More news about the cancelled Gilas-NBA game: