By Joma Ablay and Oliver Nobuta
The first ever NBA game in the Philippines will be held at the MOA Arena.
We know that you guys already know this but we’ll be giving you guys 10 things to look out for in this game and the time that they’re here. The players themselves have a lot of things that they’re looking forward to and that’s mainly the craziness of the Filipino basketball fans. Even before flying, Paul George posted a photo of him and George Hill on the cockpit of a their plane on his Instagram account. Once the players stepped off the plane, they took snap shots of airport employees waiting for them to arrive. Donald Sloan a former import in the PBA and now a guard for the Pacer wanted to meet up with former teammates. Orlando Johnson tweeted that it was nice to see the smiles on the faces of people with the hashtag “#priceless”. Pacers stars Danny Granger and George Hill went out and bought stuff in the Greenhills Shopping Center. On the other hand, some people saw Rockets players like Jeremy Lin at the Alabang Town Center and Lin and James Harden went to a club called Privé at The Fort. Some fans also saw Chandler Parsons and local celebrity KC Concepcion went out and had some dinner.
Well enough of these stuff.
Let’s get to our business shall we?
Here are the 10 things to look out for in the game:
1) Dwight Howard’s Health
For the Rockets to succeed, they will need Dwight Howard to be healthy. He is their defensive anchor, without him they’ll just be the same as last season. Look for him to be mobile and more aggressive as he recover from his back injury. Look for more pick and rolls with Jeremy Lin and James Harden. Expect him to be more explosive than last season. The Rockets will only go as far as Dwight will take them. Expect Dwight to play around 20-25 minutes in this game.
2) Paul George’s Development
In his 4th season, look for Paul George to be much more aggressive and be much more confident on the court. He said in an interview that he wants the fans to enjoy the game and we believe that he will do so. Look for him to be more of a a leader on the bench. Expect him play with Danny Granger for in this game for them to be more comfortable with each other on the court. Expect him to play around 20-25 minutes.
3) James Harden
This is James Harden’s third visit in the country, second of the year. He said that the Philippines feels like home and that it was like he never left. Look for him to get into a few 2-man game with Dwight Howard early on the game. Expect him to be more of a leader. It will be fun watching them play. Expect him to play 20-25 minutes in this game too.
4) Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert is a very important piece in Indiana’s puzzle. He is their anchor and their vocal leader. His mindset is what I like in him the most. The kid just loves to win and battle it out with the best players in the league. For the fans, it will be fun to watch 7″2′ guys battle in the paint. It is not like they see these kinds of players play each other everyday knowing that we Filipinos lack height but make up for it with the sizes of out hearts. Expect him to play more or less 20 minutes in this game
Linsanity. This needs no explanation whatsoever. The phenomenon that is Jeremy Lin will be much awaited by the fans. His documentary also just came out and that will add to his hype. Expect him to be the floor general for the Rockets and more pick and rolls with Dwight. It will be fun to watch Linsanity doing his thing. Expect him to play 20-25 minutes in this game.
6) Danny Granger
This will be his comeback season. Danny Granger is a very good defensive player, when he is healthy, he is a legit LeBron stopper. He his a very good three point shooter to and at the same time he can create his own shots off the dribble. Granger is the leader of this team alongside Paul George. Expect him to play around 20 minutes in this game.
7) Frank Vogel
One of the best coaches in the NBA today. Frank Vogel is a player’s coach and a great motivator. He is a great defensive mind and in every practice sessions he always emphasize their defense. He is a hard worker and that gets into his players too. Without him as a coach, they won’t be contender.
8) Kevin McHale
Kevin McHale is an old school type of a coach and he wants to pound the ball hard in the paint but at the same time he has no choice but maximize his team’s advantages and that is their three point shooting. Now with Dwight at the middle, we all know he will improve his post moves because of McHale and Olajuwon. McHale is a hard worker and we all know that from his Celtic days.
9) Larry Bird
Larry Legend. Come on now, who doesn’t want to see Larry Bird?! Imagine we have two Celtic legends in the country! What an offseason for Larry Bird, extending Paul George, signing Luis Scola, CJ Watson, Chris Copeland, etc. he even teaches Lance Stephenson some pointers too, those two guys are close by the way.
10) THE BASKETBALL CRAZY PHILIPPINES
The Philippines is the capital of basketball. Yes we are. Basketball is everywhere in this country. The players will appreciate the love that they will receive from the Philippines. Expect the game to be loud and crazy and maybe like a playoff atmosphere. It won’t be long that the NBA will hold an official NBA season game here in the country too.
So yeah, those are the 10 things to look out for. Expect a sloppy game overall. This is only a preseason game anyway, a lot of the top guns won’t play their usual minutes so don’t be disappointed if you see Paul George or James Harden sitting on the bench for most of the game.
Just for fun, we predict the Pacers will win by a margin of 5 to 10 points.