Huge and historic
by rick olivares
“This is huge and historic,” the was the first thought of Carlo Singson, NBA Asia’s Country Manager for the Philippines when the green light was given on a pre-season game in the Philippines.
For SM Prime Holdings President Hans Sy, it was doing cartwheels. “I would have,” he chuckled. “if I was younger.”
The National Basketball Association. The best basketball league in the entire freaking planet. The league where names like Jordan, Bird, Magic, Shaq, Kobe, and LeBron to name a few, have captured the world’s imagination and have become household names in the manner of Brazil’s one-name football wunderkinds, is now playing it’s first official pre-season game in the land of rubber shoes and dirty ice cream where everyone is a NBA expert.
On October 10, 2013, the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers will play a match at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. The Beard, Linsanity, Hollywood (Danny Granger), and Paul George to name a few will be juking, breaking ankles, swooping in for death-defying dunks, and shooting the living daylights out of the Arena in front of Filipino fans.
It’s especially sweet for Singson who has seen dozens and dozens of live NBA games. This one will be sweeter since its on Philippine soil and everyone will partake in the action. “I have been with the NBA for 15 years and three years ago this (the NBA pre-season match) seemed impossible. Now, it’s a reality. And as a basketball fan and as a Filipino, this is extremely gratifying.”
Japeth Aguilar, who before coming over to GlobalPort in the PBA, tried his luck out with several NBA and D-League teams is excited as well. “Maybe the NBA teams will be able to some local talent here. Who knows where this could lead to,” wondered the Batang Pier player who was on hand for the press conference along with fellow PBA players Arwind Santos and Chris Lutz (both of Petron) and Doug Kramer (of Barako Bull Energy Cola).
Scott Levy, NBA Asia Senior vice President and Managing Director said that there will be eight NBA teams going outside continental USA this year for a pre-season games. “The Rockets and the Pacers were chosen for their youth, star power, and brand of exciting basketball.”
This event will be an acid test for any further matches as well as possibly of a regular season game being played on Philippine shores. “Right now we are concentrating on getting this done in the best possible way then we will evaluate other opportunities,” added Levy.
Edgar Tejerero, Senior Vice President of West Avenue Theaters Corporation, said the ticket prices, dates and points of sale will be announced in the near future on the different media venues. “We are still evaluating a lot of things. We hope to make it affordable to the Philippine NBA fan. We ask all the fans to regularly check out the NBA Philippines website, Facebook page, and other outlets for information.
In a surprise treat to the assembled media, NBA Commissioner David Stern, in a video message to Filipinos said, “We have a long tradition of bringing NBA basketball to our fans globally. And in fact, the Philippines is a part of that tradition.” Stern went on to outline the NBA Asia Challenge and Jr. NBA program among many others that have been run to great success locally.
This will be the third time that a NBA team, let alone two, will play on Philippine shores. In the late 1970s, the Washington Bullets came over for an exhibition match against a team of PBA All-Stars that was followed by a match by a barnstorming Golden State Warriors team in the early 1980s.
“This isn’t a money-making venture,” clarified Sy. “We are doing this also not just for the fans and the country but also for branding purposes. We want to show not just the NBA but everyone else that the Philippines is ready to host more world-class events.”
Added Philippine Basketball Association Media Bureau Chief Willie Marcial, “This will come two months after the FIBA Asia tournament that will be held on local shores for the first time in 40 years. It will be a good year for the Filipino basketball fan.”
And it surely will be… huge and historic.
Having lived in the United States for a long time, I would oft watch NBA games in and around the Tri-State area. I am a Chicago Bulls fan who lived in New York but would at times fly to Chicago just to catch my team. At first, I got flack from many a New Yorker about my red and black loyalties (I never rooted for the Knicks except when they made the NBA finals because I am an Eastern Conference fan). Prior to that, the farthest I went was up to Philadelphia to watch Allen Iverson.
This is really exciting. October 10 cannot come soon enough.
|REUNION WITH MY SOLAR SPORTS BUDDIES. REEMA CHANCO LEFT BEFORE HAD THIS PHOTO TAKEN.|