Filipinos’ cage passion awes Lin, NBA stars

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He’s Asia’s newest darling in the National Basketball Association (NBA).


Yet Jeremy Lin, the Taiwanese-American star of the Houston Rockets, didn’t mind making a quick stop at the mall with some teammates on their first day in Manila where, inevitably, they got mobbed.

“I just want to be as much as myself as I can,” said Lin, who arrived Monday morning for the Rockets’ preseason match with the Indiana Pacers on Thursday at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

“I’m thankful that people even care and are inspired. For me, hopefully, they can see through the story that they can chase their dream and pursue their passion regardless of race or size.”

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But Lin—a former no-name benchwarmer who shot to fame following a magical hot-shooting streak with the New York Knicks in 2012—also got easily charmed by the Filipino fans.

“It has blown me away,” said Lin. “The second I got off the airplane until now, everyone had been over the top. I’m definitely feeling the love from the Philippines.”

Rising Pacers star Paul George also felt awed how big the sport is in the country.

“We were riding to our hotel and we saw the basketball courts right outside, so it’s huge out here. For us to be the first ones to play here is special,” the 23-year-old George said during yesterday’s media day at MOA Arena.

The game, which marks the first time the NBA will stage a preseason match in Southeast Asia, also brought in living legends Ron Harper, Robert Horry, Jalen Rose, Clyde Drexler as Global Game ambassadors, and two NBA Hall of Famers in Rockets coach Kevin McHale and former Boston Celtics superstar Larry Bird, who’s now the president of the Pacers franchise.

“Everybody in our roster is looking forward to the season and I want to lead this guys,” said Dwight Howard, the Rockets’ newly acquired superstar center. “This is why I’m here. It’s not about me scoring 50 points a night but showing this guys who I am as a player.”

“We’re still on our second game and we’re excited to get our chemistry going a little bit more,” said Rockets guard James Harden. “We’re just focused on what we have and getting better in practice. Most important is our communication and chemistry.”

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