THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) on Tuesday said they will hold their three-day planning session slated September 1 to 3 here instead in Hong Kong to show “sympathy and unity” with the families of hostage victims.

Rene Pardo, chairman of the Board of Governors, said it would be unwise for them to hold their long-scheduled trip in the Chinese territory, whose people are still grieving the fate of Hong Kong tourists who were either killed or injured by dismissed policeman Rolando Mendoza on August 23.

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“We don’t want to give the impression to our Hong Kong neighbors that we are insensitive to their grief. We also want our authorities to conclude their investigation to address the concerns and sentiments of the Hong Kong people,” he said.

Philippine Consul General to Hong Kong Claro Cristobal on Monday said it would be advisable to postpone travel if Filipinos are anxious of their security following the hostage-taking incident at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.

Incoming PBA commissioner lawyer Chito Salud, for his part, said the league governors have closely monitored the developments in the Philippines and in Hong Kong.

Set to be discussed in the board meeting are proposals for a three-conference format, the planned D-League and the request of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to enlist three players for the national team to the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China this November.

The oldest professional basketball league in Asia has just concluded its annual draft last Sunday at Market! Market! in Taguig City.

Ex-PBA stars join Asean tilt

Meantime, a group of former PBA stars will strut their stuff anew as they try to defend their crown in the 19th ASEAN Veterans Invitational Basketball slated September 5-9 in Seremban, Malaysia.

Former pro rivals Freddie Hubalde and Noli Banata of Crispa, Lim Eng Beng of U-Tex and Terry Saldaña of Toyota team up for the first time to banner the Filipino-Chinese Veterans Basketball Association (FCVBA).

Hubalde, the 1977 MVP winner, Beng and Saldaña banner the title-retention bid of the star-studded FCVBA team in the 50-year-old and above division of the annual tournament.

FCVBA, supported by Jimi Lim, Johnny Chua, Eduard Tio, Achit Kaw and Rain or Shine co-team owner Terry Que, will also defend its titles in the 60 and 40 years divisions.

Joining Hubalde, Saldaña, and Beng in the 50-years squad are the sweet-shooting Eduard Tio, spitfire Jimi Lim, Antonio Go, Kenneth Yap, Chiang Ka Lee, Morris Lee, Gabby Velasco and former San Miguel Beer star Elmer Reyes.

Expected to give Que and Beng additional firepower in the 60-years team are former MICAA stars Virgilio Abarrientos of Crispa and Zotico Tan of U-Tex. Also in the team are Sixto Agbay, Peter Ley, Edmundo Ang, Alyandrino Jimenez and Johnny Chua.

The 40 years and above division will be led by Johnedel Cardel and Benny Cheng. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)