This appears in the Friday, July 25, 2013 edition of the Business Mirror.
James Harden believes Pinoys have talent to make it to the NBA
by rick olivares
“You’ll have to forgive me. I’m more at ease on the basketball court.”
Houston Rockets guard James Harden eased into a seat at the ballroom of the Hotel Sofitel Manila after the press conference for the NBA 3X Philippines,
Harden is in Manila along with Eric Gordon of the New Orleans Pelicans for the three-on-three competition sponsored by Sprite. It is Harden’s second trip to Manila following his participation in an exhibition match that featured other NBA stars like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and Chris Paul among others during the league lockout two years ago.
“I don’t do crowds well,” admitted Harden who after three years of playing the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Sixth Man, blossomed into the Main Man over at Houston. “I’m more at ease with smaller groups of interviews. But I’ll do my talking on October when we play Indiana.”
“But the weather is great. I’m here a little longer. Maybe I can catch some local basketball,” said Harden who admitted to being a hoops junkie. “I hear the national team will be playing tomorrow.” The player known as ‘The Beard’ was referring to the exhibition match between Gilas Pilipinas and Kazakhstan tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum before the upcoming FIBA Asia Championship that tips off on August 1.
The Rockets, will be playing the Indiana Pacers in the first NBA Pre-season game to be played in the Philippines this coming October 10.
Harden, who has four NBA seasons to his credit is rapidly carving out a name for himself as one of the league’s best hoopsters. He’s adjudged the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year 2012. He was an All-Star this past season in addition to being named to the All-NBA third team. And he also has an Olympic Gold Medal as part of the US National Team that defending their crown in London two years ago.
“The gold medal (from the London Olympics) is nice to have,” revealed the six-foot-five native Californian. “If I can win an NBA championship then it will be a nice way to cap my basketball career. It’s good to see the Rockets organization put the parts together for a title run.”
He also observed that with all the flurry of NBA activity of late – from the recent arrival of Muggsy Bogues and LeBron James to the upcoming visits of Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose – in the Philippines, “you guys are on the road map of basketball. I was impressed last time with the talent here. I’d say that if you work hard and who knows you might get a lucky break, we’re going to see a Filipino in the NBA. More and more the game has become global and we’re really seeing the best players around the world in the NBA.” Harden has Turk Omer Asik as a teammate in Houston while he also had Congolese-Spaniard Serge Ibaka as a colleague with the OKC Thunder.
“So maybe soon you’ll be seeing one of your own. And maybe we’ll see him tomorrow in the NBA 3X.’