With its new state of the art Mall of Asia Arena, the SM Group is looking to bring top basketball action to Filipino fans, as it bids to host an NBA preseason game at the venue.
Hans Sy, president of SM Prime Holdings, has already broached the idea to no less than NBA commissioner David Stern.
“Hans Sy was invited by Commissioner Stern during the All-Star Game, and Hans told the Commissioner that he has an arena that is suitable for hosting one of the NBA games,” said Junel Baculi, the athletic director of National University which is part of the SM Group. NU is hosting the upcoming season of the UAAP, whose games will be played at the MOA Arena.
Officials from the NBA are reportedly scheduled to take a trip to the Philippines to conduct an inspection of the MOA Arena’s readiness to host an NBA game.
The MOA Arena features a 360-degree LED scoreboard, VIP boxes, and restaurants, and is hailed as the first of its kind in the Philippines.
If plans push through, the Philippines will host an NBA-sanctioned preseason game for the first time.
Last year, NBA stars led by Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and Chris Paul saw action in a series of exhibition games at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum to feverish reception from fans. The games, however, were not sanctioned by the league, which was then embroiled in a lockout with its players’ association.
In 1979, the Washington Bullets featuring stars Wes Unseld and Elgin Baylor took a tour of the Philippines, playing in exhibition matches against a selection of PBA stars.