Two days from now will be the historic first NBA preseason game ever played in the Philippines. Both the Indiana Pacers and Houston Rockets arrived late yesterday afternoon and immediately conducted charity work and basketball clinics. They also practiced at the Mall of Asia Arena to acclimate themselves to the conditions of the said venue. And NBA legends led by former Rockets and Pacers players gave promotional appearances in anticipation of the event.
The Philippines has been long been known as a basketball hotbed, but despite the overwhelming popularity of the sport, no Filipino has ever played in the NBA. And although Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra had Filipino blood, his NBA connection came as a coach. The Filipinos’ lack of height is an arguable case here, along with the need of skill and high-end talent. Which is why the need of further training, coaching and breeding is a necessity in hopes of sending a Filipino to the NBA.
Despite the lack of Filipino representatives in the NBA, their passion for the league, its players and its games are undeniable. NBA games are aired daily in the country on Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV, with occasional free TV coverage on ABS-CBN and Studio 23. Active and retired NBA players have visited the country for exhibition matches, charitable causes and promotional purposes. And the league has conducted Jr. NBA and NBA Madness events to huge acclaim.
Such love for the league was finally rewarded when the league gave the Philippines a chance to host a preseason game for the upcoming 2013-14 season. However, before hosting the event, it needed a high-end sports arena, and SM management obliged by constructing the Mall of Asia Arena, which opened in June 2012. The MOA immediately stood above the rest for its plush, cutting-edge design, complete with the needed amenities well-suited to hosting big events like this year’s NBA Global Games.
With all that in place, the NBA finally gave it a go to hold a preseason game in the Philippines. And the road is all set for the historic preseason match this October 10, live around the world, including the Philippines.