HE is a star in his own right, but this is one major event where Kenneth Duremdes admits he will be starstruck himself.
“Iba ito kasi makakaharap mo `yung mga NBA stars na halos kasabayan mong naglaro,” said the retired 38-year-old forward, who is part of a 10-man team of former PBA players that will go up against Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman and a bunch of ex-NBA greats on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Sigurado ma-star struck ako,” admitted the 1998 MVP. “Magpa-picture, magpa-autograph. Kung i-allow kaming pumunta sa dugout nila before or after the game, sigurado pupunta ako.”
Playing alongside Pippen and Rodman in the one-night affair are Scottie’s former Chicago Bull teammate Horace Grant, Mitch Richmond, Jason Williams, Cliff Robinson, Bryon Russell, Chris Campbell, Charoy Bentley, Jeff Trepagnier, and Alexis Foyle. NBA legend Oscar `The Big O’ Robertson, one of the greatest playmakers ever in the history of basketball, will call the shots for the team.
With Duremdes in the PBA selection are Bal David, Nelson Asaytono, Vince Hizon, Jojo Lastimosa, Bong Hawkins, Noli Locsin, and the twin towers of Marlou Aquino and EJ Feihl, with Jerry Codinera acting as playing-coach.
The NBA greats are expected to arrive in the country on Tuesday, with an official presscon scheduled at the MOA Arena late in the afternoon.
The local veterans had the benefit of practicing together thrice, but failed to play as a complete unit, according to Duremdes.
“Medyo kulang kami sa tao, tapos si Bal lang ang point guard namin,” said Duremdes, who played for 13 years in the PBA, and suited up for Sunkist, Alaska, Sta. Lucia, and Powerade (Coca-Cola).
“Isa pa, may mga batang players yata silang dala. E kami wala,” added the native of Koronadal City without really being worried about the match.
For Duremdes, a 10-time All Star, five-time Mythical Team member and one of the 25 Greatest PBA players of all-time, this is one game he will definitely enjoy.
Previously an LA Laker fan, Duremdes became an instant Chicago Bull diehard mainly because of Pippen and his great backcourt partner, Michael Jordan.
“Pareho kong idol yan (Pippen and Jordan). Tsaka siyempre dahil `Triangle Offense’ din kami nun sa Alaska, di ba,” he recalled, referring to the famous offensive strategy that served as the backbone of the Bulls’ six NBA titles and the Aces’ 12 championships under former coach Tim Cone.
Too bad, Duremdes said, Jordan won’t be coming over. But if he does, the former PBA great said he’ll definitely savor the moment – not by playing, but by merely watching the game.
“Susmaryosep, kung si Jordan ang dumating, hindi na ako maglalaro,” he said. “Panonoorin ko na lang siya.”