MANILA, Philippines — The Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers are just as giddy as their basketball-crazy Filipino fans when both teams play in Manila for the 2013 NBA Global Games Philippines this coming October 10.
“There has been a lot of talk about the Filipino passion for basketball from those who have visited and played the game over there. We can’t wait to experience it first-hand,” said Rockets head coach and one of the best big men in league history Kevin McHale.
“We’re just excited to come over to play the game and give Filipinos a great show. I’m excited and happy to be back in Manila and see familiar faces. Fan base is amazing over in the Philippines. The crowd is unbelievable,” marveled Rockets star guard James Harden, who was last here in July for the NBA 3X.
The first-ever NBA Preseason game in Southeast Asia, to be played at the Mall of Asia Arena, will also mark the debut of All-star center Dwight Howard in a Rockets uniform.
Howard opted not to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers after a disappointing season and instead decided to join forces with rising star Harden and swingman Chandler Parsons — transforming the Rockets from a playoff team to a championship contender.
The Pacers, led by the trio of Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West, also had a busy offseason.
After falling just a game short of dethroning the Miami Heat in the 2013 Playoffs, the Pacers hope that their new acquisitions in veteran big man Luis Scola, dead-shot forward Chris Copeland and point guard CJ Watson can finally get them over the hump.
Also giving the Pacers a boost this season is the return of their injured swingman Danny Granger.
Both the Rockets and Pacers underwent major changes in their rosters and interestingly, Manila gets to see these new-look squads in action first.