A FIRST, AT MALL OF ASIA: PINOYS CELEBRATE NBA GLOBAL GAMES PHL 2013
Indiana Pacers team coach Frank Vogel conducts a basketball clinic to Filipino Special Olympics athletes Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay city. The Indiana Pacers will play against the Houston Rockets tonight in the first-ever NBA Global Games Philippines 2013, part of the NBA's global schedule that will have eight teams play in six countries this month. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
MANILA,OCTOBER 14, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Joaquin Henson - History will be made at the Mall of Asia Arena tonight as the NBA holds its first-ever game between two league franchises in the country that is well-known for a fascination with basketball.
Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and the rest of the Rockets got in a cardio-heavy workout after arriving in Manila.
The Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers square off at 7 p.m. before a jampacked crowd estimated to surpass 20,000. Tickets went on sale last June 16 and within days, the P550, P4,200 and P8,400 seats were gone, leaving only premium sections of P27,000 and P32,300 each available for takers.
The only other time an NBA team came to play in Manila was in 1979 when the Washington Bullets, now the Wizards, blasted a PBA selection, 133-123, at the Araneta Coliseum.
Indiana's Danny Granger (clockwise), Houston's Jeremy Lin, Pacers center Roy Hibbert, new Houston big man Dwight Howard, Indiana swingman Paul George, and Rockets guard James Harden head the cast in the NBA Global Games Philippines.
But Washington coach Dick Motta brought in only eight players led by Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes and Kevin Porter, leaving out veterans like Bobby Dandridge, Mitch Kupchak and Phil Chenier.
Two years ago, a group of NBA players flew in to see action against the Gilas national team and a PBA selection in an unsanctioned exhibition series during the lockout. NBA players have invaded local shores since 1974 when a mix of legends and active stars including Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich, Calvin Murphy and Geoff Petrie gave Filipino fans a taste of how the game is played in the world’s No. 1 league.
Walt Frazier assembled a band of over 30 players to play in a pocket tournament here in 1975. This summer, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, James Harden, Eric Gordon and retired cager Sam Perkins took Manila by storm in whirlwind promotional tours.
Stern: The Philippines deserves an NBA game. NBA commissioner David Stern wasn't shy of saying that he's happy the Philippines, being the best market in Southeast Asia, got the first shot of hosting a first pre-season NBA game in the country.
It’s a tribute to outgoing NBA commissioner David Stern that Manila will finally host an NBA game.
Stern is stepping down in February to be succeeded by Adam Silver after an administration of 30 years. The commissioner spearheaded the league’s expansion beyond the traditional US market and his vision of globalization has opened the doors to unprecedented growth.
Stern has often cited the Philippines as the country with the biggest NBA following on Facebook and Twitter outside the US and described it as a major NBA market. When he retires, the NBA will have played 148 games outside the US, including 18 regular season encounters.
This year, the NBA’s Global Games will feature 12 teams playing 10 regular season and pre-season games in seven countries.
The calendar reeled off with the Oklahoma City Thunder taking on Turkish club Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul last Saturday. Then, the Philadephia 76ers faced Bilbao Basket in Bilbao, Spain, last Sunday.
The Sixers went on to battle Oklahoma City in Manchester last Tuesday. Chicago battles Washington in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday. After playing in Manila tonight, Houston and Indiana meet again in Taipei on Sunday. Regular season games will be played in Mexico between Minnesota and San Antonio on Dec. 4 and in London between Atlanta and Brooklyn on Jan. 16.
Bringing an NBA game to Manila was a dream for SM Prime Holdings president Hans Sy who sealed the deal with Stern during a visit to Orlando for the All-Star Game last year.
The game had been in the works for years and when Sy offered the brand-new Mall of Asia Arena as a venue, it didn’t take long after to come to terms.
The management of the Hong Kong-based NBA Asia headed by senior vice president and managing director Scott Levy, vice president Francesco Suarez and Philippines country manager Carlo Singson finalized the arrangements for the historic event which comes on the heels of euphoric national celebration with the Gilas team claiming the silver medal to qualify for the FIBA World Championships in Spain next year.
The Rockets and Pacers arrived on separate chartered flights last Monday. Also in town are NBA legends Clyde Drexler, Ron Harper, Robert Horry and Jalen Rose to enhance the NBA experience with fans and media. Drexler and Horry played for Houston while Rose suited up for Indiana in their
NBA careers. NBA Entertainment vice president of production Andy Thompson, a PBA import with Tanduay in 1986, flew in from New Jersey last Friday with a camera crew to document the event.
In the days leading up to tonight’s game, the NBA organized several activities that served to cement a long-lasting relationship with the burgeoning Philippine market. The Houston and Indiana coaching staff held a free coaching development clinic last Tuesday and yesterday, the Pacers hosted a clinic for Special Olympic athletes.
The NBA’s partnership with the Washington, D. C.-based Special Olympics began in 1979. The Special Olympics program has reached out to over 4.1 million intellectually challenged athletes from over 170 countries through the years.
The pre-game schedule also included an NBA Fan Fiesta and player appearances at the San Andres gym, another basketball stunt at the Cuneta Astrodome and the Aurora Quezon Elementary School in Malate.
Both the Rockets and Pacers are playing 17-man rosters. They’ve undergone major personnel shifts in the offseason with their sights set on the ultimate prize.
Houston’s new recruits are Dwight Howard, Marcus Camby, Omri Casspi, Reggie Williams, Ronnie Brewer and rookies Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington. Coach Kevin McHale’s holdovers include Harden, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, Francisco Garcia, Patrick Beverley, Aaron Brooks and Donatas Montiejunas.
Indiana’s new players are Luis Scola, Hilton Armstrong, Rasual Butler, Chris Copeland, Darnell Jackson, former PBA import Donald Sloan, C. J. Watson and rookies Solomon Hill and Ron Howard. Coach Frank Vogel’s holdovers include Paul George, George Hill, Danny Granger Granger, David West, Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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