A dream is finally realized. The NBA Global Games/Red Nation experience.

I’ve been a member of Red Nation for 11 years now and I have embraced everything about the Houston Rockets ever since. Then one day in February of this year, the dream got closer as the NBA announced that the team alongside the Indiana Pacers will play the very first NBA preseason game in the Philippines. I made my move, saving up and working to get money for the ticket. Then a couple of months later, I went in and purchased my ticket on the very first day it came out to the public. I also got freebies that came along with the ticket and loaded myself with Rockets gear for the big game since it was a perfect time to buy since their gear are plentiful in anticipation of the game.

Finally, on one rainy Thursday afternoon, the dream was realized as the NBA Global Games Philippines 2013 finally came along at the Mall of Asia Arena to grace one of the most passionate countries in the world when it comes to basketball.

I arrived at the arena as soon as gates opened just after 4pm. Then, once inside, I finally got to roam around the arena for the first time in the three times I’ve been at a venue to witness a basketball game. I was with my then schoolmate, once my brother’s classmate and Red Nation buddy Ronny who I haven’t seen in 8 years when were just young kids at school. Then we loaded up with gear to buy, before going to our seats and wait for the game to start.

90 minutes until tipoff
Photo ©Karl Carandang


Some of the players were already practicing once we got in and the arena was loaded with white shirts containing “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” since the Department of Tourism stepped in in and supported the event. Along the way I saw some players from the UAAP near the spot where I was sitting. Then moments before tip-off, the Rockets Launch Crew alongside Clutch the Rockets Bear and Boomer came in for their performances. So yeah, I got to see some great mascots around especially Clutch who is one of the best mascots around the world. Then with less than 20 minutes until tip-off, both teams came out of the tunnel for their pregame warmups.

Rockets Launch Crew

 

Clutch and Boomer
 
 Rockets and Pacers go with their pregame warmups
Photos ©Karl Carandang


As the buzzer sounded, the teams lined up and the starting lineups were introduced as both the Rockets and Pacers played pregame videos alongside the introduction of the starting lineups. After the introductions, the Commissioner himself David Stern was also in Manila to grace the event and gave his gratitude to the crowd in attendance. Then after a few moments, we have tipoff!

Rockets pregame video

 

Pacers pregame video
(I loved the fact they added a local flare in their message for the crowd at hand.)

 

NBA Commissioner David Stern addresses the crowd at the arena
 
We have tipoff from Manila!
Photos ©Karl Carandang
 
As for the game itself, well it was pretty much a one-sided affair as the Rockets never trailed in the game despite comeback bids by the Pacers all game long, as they come up with the win by 20 points 116-96.
 
James Harden led the Rockets with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals on 6-12 FG shooting. Isareli swingman Omri Casspi added 17 points and 10 rebounds. Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas chipped in 16 points. Chandler Parsons had 15 points, while Jeremy Lin added 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Patrick Beverley added 12 points and Dwight Howard only scored 9 points. 
 
Paul George led the Pacers with 17 points, while David West added 14. Orlando Johnson scored 11. While George Hill and Luis Scola added 10 each. Danny Granger only scored 9 points alongside CJ Watson while big man Roy Hibbert was only limited to 6 points.
 
The final score. Rockets 116-96 Pacers
Photo ©Karl Carandang
 
Box scores:
Houston Rockets (116) – Harden 21, Casspi 17, Motiejunas 16, Parsons 15, Lin 14, Beverley 12, Howard 9, Brooks 5, Jones 5, Brewer 2, Canaan 0, Covington 0
 
Indiana Pacers (96) – George 17, West 14, Johnson 11, G. Hill 10, Scola 10, Granger 9, Watson 9, Hibbert 6, Stephenson 4, Armstrong 4, Copeland 2, S. Hill 0, Sloan 0, Butler 0, Mahinmi 0
 
Every timeout, there were performances by Clutch, Boomer, the Rockets Launch Crew and the Pacemates. As well as the fact they were handing out free t-shirts even Clutch gave his Clutch dolls amongst the crowd. There were also fan contests throughout. In addition, they honored NBA legends Clyde Drexler, Robert Horry, Ron Harper and Jalen Rose who graced the country for the series of events that transpired over the past couple of days. As the final buzzer sounded, the players came out to hand in some freebies to the crowd in attendance.
 
The Indiana Pacemates doing a dance for the crowd.
 
NBA legends Clyde Drexler, Robert Horry, Ron Harper and Jalen Rose.
 
Clutch and Boomer up with their crazy antics during the timeout.
 
Rockets Launch Crew wowing the crowd.
 
Air Clutch and Air Boomer with the Rockets Launch Crew and the Pacemates.
Photos ©Karl Carandang
 
The game also gave me an opportunity to see the players and legends I only see on television live in person. At the same time see both teams play their brand of basketball right before my eyes. From the Rockets players like James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons to the Pacers players like Paul George, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and Luis Scola. At the same time, seeing coaches Kevin McHale and Frank Vogel. Even Rockets GM Daryl Morey and Pacers President Larry Bird.
 
James Harden at the line
 
Dwight Howard taking free throws
 
Jeremy Lin at the line
Photos ©Karl Carandang
 
As for the crowd atmosphere, well it’s a different sight. As for most of the game. Filipino basketball fans were not as rabid and wild as if it were a college basketball or PBA game. The crowd was very attentive to every play, every basket, every block, every three pointer that came along during the course of the game. You can even hear the coaches give instructions on their players. I even saw fans of the Pacers who came all the way from Indiana to see their team play here. There was one guy who came to the game with the sign “I Love the Pacers” and at the back “Mahal ko ang Pacers”. An irony about the fan reaction during the the game, there were cheers when Jeremy Lin gets a basket or touches the ball and he was given a nice ovation when his night on the floor was done. While Dwight Howard got jeers whenever he has the ball or takes free throws, when he got his fifth foul, the crowd just went crazy. The Mall of Asia Arena also wasn’t filled to capacity as only around 15,000 were in attendance to watch the game. One factor could be the ticket prices as well as the bad weather around the area. The fans were wearing either Rockets or Pacers gear as well as NBA gear from other teams.
 
Well, the Global Games/Red Nation experience was all worth it. Not only because the Rockets won the game which I would say was a bonus, but the experience of seeing my favorite players and legends from both teams at the same time the once in a blue moon experience of an authentic NBA game on Philippine soil. Well, I would say it would have been better if a Filipino was on an NBA roster and the fans will come out with their all-out support. Similar to what Yao Ming experienced when the NBA came over to China in 2005 and what will Jeremy Lin experience up in Taiwan as both the Rockets and Pacers made their second stop in their NBA Global Games trip. At the same time, they can improve on ticket prices to make the experience affordable to every Filipino, the next time the league decides to come back and play on Philippine soil once again which I believe will happen sooner than many people expect.

To wrap up this entry I would like to thank the NBA and NBA Philippines for bringing the Global Games here in the Philippines. I hope it’s not the last time they will do this on our shores and I always believe that one day, a Filipino player will shine bright in the league. Someday, I will get to watch the NBA in the United States.

 
From a member of Red Nation in the Philippines,
K-Smoove
 
P.S. Is the NBA Cafe at SM Aura in Fort Bonifacio open already?
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