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Tuesday May 22, 2012

Dragons players to take on ex-NBA legends

KUALA LUMPUR: For many aspiring basketball players, the chance to meet top NBA players will just be a dream.

But for the Westports Malaysia Dragons’ players, that dream is about to become a reality.

Dragons cagers will have the opportunity to brush shoulders with several retired NBA legends in a friendly match come July 16 at the Stadium Malawati.

They may have retired but the likes of Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Horace Grant and Jason Williams are still bound to dazzle the crowd with their skills as the US Professional Basketball Alumni (PBAA) have made Malaysia the first stop of their Asian Tour.

Besides the quartet, the PBAA’s All Star team will also comprise the likes Mitch Richmond, Jeff Trepaigner, J.R. Reid, Charoy Bentley, Flex Foyle and Vernon Maxwell and will be coached by Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes.

For Dragons youngster Loh Shee Fai, the opportunity to play against some of NBA’s legends besides meeting them was simply a dream come true.

“I’ve mostly only seen them on television and now I get to play against them. It’s really an unbelievable opportunity and I’m really excited,” said the 22-year-old Shee Fai.

And 30-year-old John Ng echoed his team-mate’s views and is similarly eagerly anticipating the chance to brush shoulders with his idols.

“I’m a great fan of both Pippen and Rodman but I’ve yet to meet an NBA player. They may be retired but they’re still my idols and it is a dream come true for me to play against them,” said John.

Even Dragons head coach Ariel Vanguardia seems to believe that the opportunity to play against the NBA former greats will certainly help his team improve in their own game and will serve to inspire others to pick up basketball.

“This is a great opportunity to expose basketball to this country and our players will certainly benefit from the experience of playing against the PBAA players,” said Vanguardia.

“Besides we want to see the development of the game and this friendly will enlighten the younger generations about basketball and encourage them to play the game.”

The All Star team will also head to Manila (July 18) and Kaohsiung (July 21) for friendly exhibition matches.

“PBAA is providing fans an opportunity to see world renowned basketball alumni up close,” said PBAA chief executive officer Charles D. Smith.

“The match in July is just a start and we’re looking forward to having more events in the future.”

Meanwhile, tickets for the match between the All Stars and the Dragons will only be available tomorrow at AirAsia Redtix.com and is priced between RM40 to RM225.

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