The nine-player NBA team, featuring L.A.'s Kobe Bryant and Bulls guard Derrick Rose, wrapped up their two-game exhibition trip to the Philippines on Sunday. After a convincing 131-105 victory (and a whopping 30 dunks) over the PBA All-Stars on Saturday, the NBA stars, playing under the banner of SMART All-Stars, were given a hard time Sunday, though they managed to pull away for a 98-89 win ("only" 14 dunks) over the Smart Gilas Pilipinas.
By all accounts, the group of NBA players were treated like rock stars by the basketball-crazy Filipinos.
According to media reports, Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee led the NBA stars with 25 points in their 26-point victory on Saturday, while Kevin Durant, Tyreke Evans, James Harden, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul each scored in double figures.
Rose, who reportedly welcomed the opportunity to play in the game and continue to market his shoe endorsement with adidas, scored nine points on Saturday. Two of his nine points came on an MVP-to-MVP alley-oop with Bryant -- and it probably isn't the last time the two stars will connect this summer:
According to The Philippine Star, "the crowd (at Araneta Coliseum) went wild (Saturday) as Derrick Rose was called to the floor and the fans went wilder as the Black Mamba (Bryant) took his turn -- the last being the main man -- to enter the court." Similar to the first game, Rose was showered with MVP chants as he was being introduced Sunday, and received the second-loudest (behind Bryant) ovation from the reported 20,000-plus in attendance.
In the second and final exhibition game, the NBA stars were led by Bryant's 17 points. McGee, Durant and Harden each scored in double figures.
Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao made an appearance to check out the NBA stars with 10:42 left in the game and the Smart Gilas trailing by 18. According to The Philippine Star, Pacquiao "halted play for a few minutes to shake hands with Bryant and the rest of the NBA players, who also posed with the Filipino champion."
Derrick Williams, the second overall selection by the Minnesota Timberwolves in this year's NBA draft, scored eight points on Sunday, while players union president Derek Fisher added five. The NBA stars survived a late rally by the Smart Gilas Pilipinas, who cut a 19-point deficit after three quarters to seven at one point late in the fourth quarter.
Rose, once again, lacked much aggression, finishing with just six points. Quiet performances from Rose in games featuring multiple stars is nothing new. In the World Championships last summer, Rose averaged seven points (on seven field-goal attempts per game) for a Team USA squad led by Durant. In two All-Star game appearances (2010, 2011), Rose has scored a combined 19 points. Solid, sure -- however, not the Derrick Rose that Bulls fans are accustomed to seeing.
Still, it's hard to make much out of two exhibition games. They are just exhibition games.
In all, it was a positive trip for Rose. And just like home games at the United Center, the 22-year-old heard plenty of MVP chants from the Filipino faithful.
Saturday, Rose told a local newscaster that he only brought two people with him for the two-game exhibition trip: His brother and a friend.
“We had a lot of fun out there, we had a lot of competition,” Rose said to Joey Villar of The Philippine Star.
Added Bryant: “It’s a tremendous honor to play here. Thank you for the love and passion you have in the sport. I hope this will not be the last."
The group of NBA stars certainly may not be finished playing in the Philippines, as various reports say an agreement calls for a return trip to the Philippines in August. For basketball-deprived fans, that's good news.
Arguably the best news of all: No NBA players were hurt during this production.