THE NBA is set to hold its first game in the Philippines on October 10 when the Houston Rockets play the Indiana Pacers in a preseason match at the Mall of Asia Arena, it was announced on Tuesday.
No less than NBA commissioner David Stern made the announcement in a video message shown on MOA Arena's giant screen above centercourt during the press conference on Tuesday.
Hans Sy, son of tycoon Henry Sy and the prime mover behind the project, said the match is a dream come true for the SM Group of Companies which has long wanted to bring world-class sports action to the country through its newly built, state-of-the-art arena in Pasay City.
The preseason will be one of the few the NBA will hold outside of the United States prior to the 2014 season and the first in the Philippines, which has seen several current and former NBA stars play here but never an official game.
In his message, Stern in fact recalled the deep roots the NBA has had in this basketball-crazy nation going back to the exhibition game the Washington Bullets, then led by Wes Unseld, played against a selection from the Philippine Basketball Association in 1979.
The match gives Filipino fans the chance to watch Jeremy Lin, the Asian-American of Taiwanese descent who took the league by storm with the New York Knicks last season and is now the starting guard of the Rockets.
Unless there are major movements in the next offseason, the preseason game will also showcase NBA stars like the Rockets' James Harden and the Pacers' Danny Granger, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West, and recent slam-dunk contestant Gerald Green.