FROM the moment he stepped on Philippine soil for the first time, Dirk Nowitzki received a warm welcome from Filipino fans whose love and passion for basketball is well-documented.
Nowitzki was in town to participate in the Fiba Basketball World Cup draw ceremony on Saturday. The Dallas Mavericks star is chairman of the Players’ Commission which has a seat in the powerful Fiba Central Board.
Nowitzki said he is amazed by the reception that he received – from the airport to the draw ceremony itself where he accommodated several selfie requests before he entered the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.
“Amazing,” said Nowitzki. “I met so many fans and supporters here the last few days. I knew the Philippines love' their basketball. I didn’t know it was this crazy. Everybody loves hoops, loves the Mavericks, and loves the NBA. It means a lot. It’s an amazing trip.”
“It’s been humbling to see. It’s my first time ever here. A lot of people have followed my career from that far away. This is really special. It’s been a fun trip,” said the 44-year-old.
Nowitzki didn’t have a lot of time to go around the Philippines, but was able to catch a glimpse of Tagaytay City.
“I hadn’t had much time. We had a lot of meetings. Obviously, I’m on the Central Board of Fiba. I did see that active volcano. That was fun. The smallest active volcano in the world, I heard,” said Nowitzki.
The future Hall of Famer also looks forward to the participation of his home country Germany in the Fiba Basketball World Cup. Germany will be playing in Okinawa where they are in Group E along with Finland, Australia, and Japan.
“We just won bronze in Eurobasket last September. We had a lot of NBA players led by Schroder, Kleber, and Theiss. Hopefully, we will have a great World Cup… Obviously, it’s always hard. But hopefully, we’re going to have a good team,” said Nowitzki.
"Anything is possible."