PBA legends gear up for historic rival teams’ exhibition game on February 17

Some of the former professional basketball players of the Philippine Basketball Association
who will play for the “Return of the Rivals”, a charity event of the PBA Legends Foundation, UNTV and PBA on February 17, 2019 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. (Fred Alvior / Photoville International)

Philippine basketball fans will once again get to see their hard-court heroes who have kept Filipinos’ passion for basketball burning for decades.

Dubbed as the ‘Return of the Rivals,’ PBA Legends of the 90s will face off anew in an exhibition game slated on February 17 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The game will feature the prominent archrivals in Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) history: the San Miguel Beer versus Alaska Milk and the Barangay Ginebra against the Purefoods Hotdogs.

“It is really nice to be back on the court again with the players na nakakalaban namin before na hindi kami naglaro for a long time. So magsasama ulit kami and it’s really nice to be part of this project na pinangunahan ni Kuya Daniel (It is really nice to be back on the court again with the players that we have played against before. After a long time, we will be able to play with them again and it’s really nice to be a part of this project led by Kuya Daniel Razon),” former Alaska player Jojo “Jolas” “Mr. Clutch” Lastimosa said.

Former Purefoods player, Alvin “The Captain” Patrimonio echoed the excitement.

“It’s really a blessing kasi nagsama-sama ulit. Parang reunion ulit with the players, former players. Tapos ang kalaban mo ay ‘yung rival mo nung panahon. So, talagang excited and talagang nagpe-prepare lahat for this big event (It’s really a blessing because we’re together again. It’s like a reunion for us. Then, we get to play with our rival teams from before. We are really excited and we are really preparing for this big event).”

PBA legends participating in the game have been preparing for their big reunion, promising to bring fun and excitement to the viewers.

Former Alaska point guard, Johnny “The Flying A” Abarrientos explained the sense of fulfillment that the game brings.

“Yung fulfillment kasi ito ‘yung passion ng mga PBA Legends, ‘yung makabalik ulit, makapag-perform, makita ng fans na we can still play. Sobra, sobra kaming thankful (It is fulfilling because this is the passion of the PBA Legends: to be able to play again, to show the fans that we can still play. We are so very thankful).”

For Lastimosa, the raised stakes will reignite the competitive spirit of old rivals.

“Sa ngayon, nagsasabi sila na we’re not out there to win, pero pagdating sa court niyan, walang magpapatalo niyan especially na may matatanggap ‘yung winning team. I think the competitive side of the players will come out eventually pagdating naming sa court (For now, some say we’re not out there to win. But when the game starts the competitiveness will kick in, especially since there’s a price at stake for the winning team. I think the competitive side of the players will come out eventually on the court),”

Bonel “The Gentle Giant” Balingit of Purefoods Hotdogs recalled their heydays.

“Siguro noong panahon ang basketball, halos lahat galing probinsya. Tapos hindi pa ganoon ka-high-tech din ‘yung paggamot ‘nung mga injury. ‘Pag galing sa probinsya, pinapagpag lang, okay na (Back in the day, most of the PBA players were from province. Treatment of injuries were not that advanced yet. In the province, you just pick yourself up and dust yourself off).”

But beyond the excitement and entertainment, the Return of the Rivals project serves a more noble purpose — giving assistance to former professional basketball players who are sick or have medical concerns.

The said basketball charity event is a project of the Samahan ng mga Dating Propesyonal na Basketbolista sa Pilipinas Foundation Incorporated, in cooperation with the Philippine Basketball Association or PBA and UNTV.

The idea of forming the group started in April 2015 wherein an exhibition game was staged between several PBA Legends and the UNTV Cup All Stars.

“Well, we’re so thankful kay Kuya Daniel, without him, without UNTV, this wouldn’t be possible. In fact, napakalaking utang na loob naming sa kaniya kasi siya ang nag-spearhead at nag-push sa amin to form this foundation two years ago and he even donated one million for the seed money. Saludo ako kay Kuya Daniel. Maraming maraming Salamat Kuya Daniel. We owe you big time,” San Miguel Beer’s Trigger Man Allan Caidic said.

(We are so thankful to Kuya Daniel Razon. Without him, without UNTV, this charity endeavor wouldn’t be possible. In fact he spearheaded and pushed us to form the PBA Legends foundation two years ago and he even donated one million for the seed money. I salute Kuya Daniel, thank you very much. We owe you big time.)

“Sana naman ay sa mga darating na ibang legends ay sana gawin ulit ni Mr. Daniel ito mabuting project para sa kapuwa nating manlalaro rin,” Ginebra’s Joey Loyzaga said.

(I hope Mr. Daniel Razon will continue this noble project with the future PBA Legends for the benefit of our fellow basketball players in need.)

The players are inviting the public to support the Return of the Rivals exhibition game, which will also be aired in UNTV.

“Sa lahat po ng mga fanatic at naniniwala pa po na kaya pa pong maglaro ng mga players ng Return of the Rivals, suportahan ninyo pong muli kami this coming February 17 at Araneta Coliseum,” Abarrientos invited.

(To all of our fans, to those who still believe that we can still play, let’s watch the Return of the Rivals on February 17 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.) — Asher Cadapan Jr / UNTV News and Rescue

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