From the FanPosts.
Watching the first game last night already kept me awake until 2 am, as i couldn't get the imagery of NBA demigods in their prime playing on our local blacktop. Apart from the All-Star game and the Olympics, how many of us can claim to have seen 8 top-tier NBA players team up to destroy local talent and still be the good guys?
Pleasantly surprised with the reaction of Sactown Royalists to the earlier account, here is the second installment of Tyreke's invasion of the Philippines. There may be gaps in my recollection of the game, as i'm still punch drunk with what happened the past two days. Part of being punch drunk is doing my best impression of an StR/Sacramento Kings fan watching at PBP.
Arrived a full hour before tip-off. Wearing my Kings jersey shirt (Artest 93), I scanned the crowd of 20,000 for signs of Sac Loyalty. I didn't see one until after the game eating at a nearby Chinese restaurant (Evans 13) though my brother told me he saw one guy in the stands. Let's see 20,000+ NBA lunatics and about 10 guys wearing Kings merch.
With this series, Sacramento has a big opportunity to gain more followers here. And it rests on the massive shoulders of Tyreke, which during warmups, I got my first glimpse of. Dude is really freaking huge. He's about as big as Kobe but beefier. He showed good form while making jumpers though it's really noticeable he cocks the ball very near his head before releasing.
Game on. Home team gets called first again. This national team is different from the PBA patsies the other night. They've been playing team ball for years now, and are bigger and more agile. McGee has some competition now with 6-11 Marcus Douthit and 6-9 Fil-Tongan Asi Taulava.
As the NBA stars were introduced, overhead video shows a guy flashing a sign "We want Scalabrine!" D-Rose almost broke into a smile. Starting lineup: Rose, Paul, Bryant, Durant, and McGee.
First quarter starts on fire as teams trade baskets. PH Team holding up with smart team play but the talent disparity is obvious. All-Stars up by 10 when Tyreke enters at the 6:40 mark. A rebound and coast-to-coast attempt goes wide, but Reke makes up by slamming home a fastbreak pass from McGee on the next play. Minutes later, Reke spins twice to shake off his defender and flips it with his back facing the ring but it rims out. The crowd goes "OOOOOH!" With 40 secs remaining, Reke breaks loose, crosses over his man and makes a layup. My brother, a L**er fan since the showtime days, nods approvingly and say that Evans is special. I told him his team sucks eggs.
First Quarter 28-16.
Tyreke returns to the court on the 6 minute mark (notice the substitution pattern). He shifts to 2 guard (played 3 in the first) as he gets repeatedly burned at the post by smaller guys. On the next play, he promptly strips his guy, races to the other end and jams the ball. Take me to pasture: I've seen Tyreke dunk thrice in a span of 24 hours!
During a frenzied fast break from the PH team, Tyreke leaps from nowhere to block the layup attempt. Then, he makes a crossover and flips the ball to a cutting Harden for a quick two. His patented spin move comes alive later but the attempt failed.
With seconds remaining, Tyreke gets fouled and converts his first. He shorts the second, gets his own miss and flips it seemingly absentmindedly. It banks in and buzzer sounds.
Haltfime 55-37. Reke 9 points. And Sacramento is slowly crawling back on the NBA map of the Philippines.
No halftime show except for the usual pompom girls.
Tyreke returns to the game at the predictable 6 minute mark. A stepback 2 and a stepback 3 doesn't amount to anything. Apart from a couple of dribbling exhibitions from Tyreke, CP3 and D-Rose, the game was closer than expected with the nationals hanging on by 10 points.
Third Quarter. 79-60
Tyreke starts the fourth but never got to handle the ball except for a one or two rebounds and dribble shakes. I don't think he attempted a shot and he checked out earlier than expected.
The game is momentarily ignored when Manny Pacquiao checks in at the 8 minute mark. The tables are turned and it's now the NBA stars who become star-struck. During a timeout, an interviewer asks CP3 how long can he withstand MP in a fight. After replying "about 15 secs," Chris Paul taps Manny on the shoulder and challenges him to a fight on center court.
Playing to crowd shouts of MVP, D Rose crosses over his opponent twice and gets fouled in the attempt. Serenaded by chants of MVP, he flubs his first free throw and the crowd goes "Ayyy.." Out of character, he breaks into a wide smile and misses his next FT. That sequence, apart from getting to watch the Reke Freak show live, was more than enough to compensate me for the admission ticket.
The game remained close with the nationals trailing between 6 and 10 points.At the one-minute mark, the All Stars closed out strong with 2 thunderous dunks: McGee with a flying one-hander and Williams with a double clutch reverse.
Final score: 98-89. Or something like that. At this point, nobody cares. In a very happy way.
As soon as the buzzer sounded, Chris Paul removed his shoes and threw each one at both sides of the court. Pandemonium erupts as everybody scrambles to get this piece of hoops history. KD and Tyreke followed suit, and I couldn't help think murderous throughts of the two lucky bastards who got to take home Evans' silver Jordans. The other all stars followed suit and gave away their jerseys and shoes (separately) to members of the audience. CP3, Tyreke, KD, and McGee deserve props for throwing their stuff into the General Admission ($6 entrance) crowd. While the crowd was crowding the NBA stars, the NBA stars were jostling to get Pacquiao's autograph. Talk about the circle of life...
The game was about over for 10 minutes but nobody made any signs of leaving. we were all standing and clapping while the adrenaline of watching a once-in-a-lifetime event is slowly draining away. Next and more important target: watching the entire Kings play live at PBP/Arco.
Trying to make Tyreke notice that I'm the only guy wearing Kings purple in at least 4 sections of the arena proved impossible. I didn't honestly make an effort, since I'm pretty much close to wetting myself from sheer joy. I've been collecting Kings jerseys, caps, shirts and have transformed my spare room into a Kings museum by plastering Kings-only basketball cards and displaying Kings merch - including such "rare" items as a Kings matroschka doll (from Prague and features Vlade and Peja) and a hybrid Bobby Jackson/Hello Kitty coffee mug (no kidding!). To see a King flesh and blood made acquiring that motley collection worth it many times over.
Looking at the sea of Nike Black Mamba shirts and Lakers, Bulls and even Oklahoma City jerseys, i know this is far from a Kings game or that Evans is the top draw. But somehow, Tyreke playing with the more familiar players is a big step towards the resurgence of Kings basketball here.
And when that time comes, I'll be glad to converse with the new members of Sactown Royalty from the Philippines and give a knowing nod of approval.