NLEX, Blackwater will play friendship game with French team ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne

LOCAL ball clubs Blackwater and NLEX will have their mettle tested against decorated French team ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne in a series of goodwill games as part of the 75th year anniversary of friendship and diplomatic ties between the Philippines and France.

The Road Warriors and the Bossing, fresh from a quarterfinals stint in the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup, will have one game each against the French squad with Greater China’s Bay Area Dragons serving as the other guest team.

The friendship games set on Aug. 31 to Sept. 4 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum was an initiative of Michèle Boccoz, French Ambassador to the Philippines, in a bid to foster stronger bilateral relations with the Philippines through sports this time.

“There has been a long cooperation between the Philippines and France but there’s a lot more we can do. Having sports as part of the anniversary is something we look forward to for another 75 years,” she said in a presser hosted by Blackwater on Wednesday.

NLEX and Blackwater also shared the excitement when they host Asvel, owned by NBA legend Tony Parker and the 21-time champion of French League, on Sept. 2 and 4, respectively.

In fact, the Bossing and the Road Warriors are pulling out all the stops to bring their imports for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup early to give Asvel a stronger competition.

“It will solidify the friendship between the Philippines and France. We have the whole week of September to entertain our Filipino fans with world-class basketball. I hope it inspires our young Filipino players,” said Sy.

“We’re really excited. I’m a fan of European basketball and Tony Parker so it’s our honor to be playing them. It’s also a learning opportunity for us as we play a world-class team,” added NLEX general manager and head coach Yeng Guiao.

Bay Area, for its part, will play ASVEL on Aug. 31 as part of its own buildup as a guest team in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup next month and as one of pioneering clubs in East Asia Super League (EASL) in October. — John Bryan Ulanday