JAMES Harden said the Manila preseason game is a good opportunity for the new-look Houston Rockets to bond ahead of the new NBA season.
The Rockets will go into Thursday's historic match against the Indiana Pacers with a rejigged lineup bolstered by the arrival of top center Dwight Howard and role players Ronnie Brewer, Omri Casspi, and Francisco Garcia.
Harden said the Manila trip will definitely help develop the Rockets’ team chemistry.
“It helps,” said Harden during media availability day last Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena. “At home, you have your family but when you are on the road, 20 hours away, there is a lot of bonding in the team.”
“It’s great for us because we are so new to each other. It’s definitely a stepping stone for us,” said Harden, who is visiting the country for the second time this year.
With the Rockets loading their roster, the guard known for his trademark beard said it also gives him a little more responsibility being one of the leaders of the team.
“We are a little bit stronger in the post area, pick-and-roll got better, mid-range got better. Every aspect, we got better so I got a lot more responsibility,” Harden said.
The Houston star has high respect for the Pacers and said the preseason game will give them a gauge as to where they are right now weeks before the new NBA season unfolds.
“They are a great team for a couple of years now. They put teams on their toes. They have a great coaching staff," he said. “It’s going to be a challenge for us, where we can see where we are and where we need to be.”