By Leo Reyes
The upcoming thriller will be the second time the NBA will be played in the Philippines.
The first and only NBA team that played in the country was in 1979 when the the Washington Bullets faced the PBA selection team at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Among the PBA stars who played against the Washington Bullets in 1979 were Robert Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, Arnie Tuadles, Philip Cezar, Atoy Co, Jesse Sullano, Rudy Kutch and imports Larry Pounds, Cyrus Mann, Glenn McDonald, Dean Tolson and Larry McNeill.
The Bullets then prevailed over the PBA selections with the score of 133-123 before a crowd of over 20,000.
More than seven months to go before the next NBA game, basketball-crazy Filipino NBA fans are now gearing up for activities that are planned in a buildup to the October 10 basketball event.
According to Philstar.com,the “buildup will include appearances by NBA talent, along with family-oriented and grassroots basketball events to bring the game closer to fans.”
In a video message shown on the screen at the Mall of Asia Arena, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the holding of the NBA game after signing a deal with Hans Sy, president of SM Prime Holdings Inc., owner of the Mall of Asia Arena.
“I am thrilled to announce that the NBA will have its first pre-season game in Manila between the Indiana Pacers and the Houston Rockets. The game will be held on October 10th at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila,” Stern said.
“Our game in Manila is an exciting opportunity to connect with the passionate basketball fans in the Philippines and across Southeast Asia,” the NBA Commissioner added.
Sy said, fans will be treated to an authentic NBA experience as the Mall of Asia Arena which can accommodate 20,000 crowds.
“This is definitely sports history in the making,” said SM Prime Holdings Inc. President Hans Sy.“The Filipinos are one of the biggest basketball fans in the world. It is only fitting that we bring the NBA preseason game to Philippine shores and SM will make it happen at the Mall of Asia Arena.”
“The Philippines is an ideal setting for the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers to take part in a showcase of our game and give fans in the region an authentic NBA experience,” he added.
The organizers have not yet announced the prices of tickets for the October basketball event. Fans are worried about the high cost of tickets and possible lack of seats on game date.
“I’m super excited and can’t wait for October 10, and I’m a big fan of Jeremy Lin,” said PBA point guard Chris Tiu of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
“It’s great. The Philippines has a huge NBA fan base and it’s about time for them to come,” added Globalport’s Japeth Aguilar, who spent time during the off season trying out for NBA teams and working out with the NBA D-League’s Santa Cruz Warriors. Read more.