After the sellout visit of reigning National Basketball Association (NBA) most valuable player Lebron James, two of America’s hottest young spitfires arrived in the country today to promote the game.
NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist James Harden of the Houston Rockets, together with FIBA World Championship gold medalist Eric Gordon of the New Orleans Pelicans (formerly New Orleans Hornets), graced the formal announcement of the 2013 NBA Philippines-Sprite 3X Tournament at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City today.
The two hoops stars were also accompanied by the Indiana PaceMates, the cheering group of the Indiana Pacers; and Grizz, the mascot of the Memphis Grizzlies.
In an interview with Fullcourtfresh.com, Harden recalled that Filipino basketball players “have great fundamentals.”
“They know how to play, know how to score, and are passionate about playing,” he said.
Norming a career-high average of 25.9 points, 5.8 assists, and 1.9 steals last season with the Rockets after playing for three seasons as the sixth man of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden believes that the Philippine national team can excel in the upcoming FIBA Asiad in August despite being a guard-oriented team.
“They just have word hard and be dedicated in the game,” he advised. “They must not be rattled; they must play smartly, and just play their game and ignore their height of the other teams.”
He further encouraged Filipino street ballers to “dream big” as he started as a street player too.
“I play after school and I played on the streets and that’s how I started,” he shared. “It’s just about loving the game and staying fit all the time.”
Meanwhile, Gordon, who averages 18 points in five seasons with New Orleans and the Los Angeles Clippers, expressed his delight about the growing clout of international players coming in the NBA.
“You see a lot of guys from the international scene coming in the NBA and they bring a lot of style of play in the league,” he said. “We learn from them and we really love to travel around the world to share our knowledge and inspire children to play, and at the same time, learn and observe the style of play abroad.”
According to NBA Philippines country manager Carlo Singson, the NBA 3X Tournament will run from August 17 to 19 at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall and Bay Area. The three-on-three games will pit boys aged 10 to 18, girls aged 13 to 17, and open tournaments for men and women.
Harden will then return to Manila on October 10 as the Rockets will face the Pacers in an NBA pre-season game at the Mall of Asia Arena.
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