Basketball

SM MOA Arena to host Pacers versus Rockets, first NBA preseason game in Philippines

InterAKTV/Mikkel Bolante

InterAKTV/Mikkel Bolante

The SM Mall of Asia Arena will host the first-ever preseason exhibition game between two NBA teams in Philippine shores.

InterAKTV has learned that the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers are set to do battle at the venue on October 10.

A new conference has been scheduled on Tuesday to announce the details of the game.

Last June, InterAKTV first reported that the SM Group was working on bringing an NBA game to the Philippines.

“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 hosted this UAAP season, whose games were played at the MOA Arena.

The country has long been crazy about NBA basketball, but has not drawn consideration as a venue for the league’s games because of a lack of a suitable venue. With the state-of-the-art MOA Arena, that has changed.

Filipinos last got a taste of top-flight NBA action in 2011, when NBA superstars led by Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul played a pair of exhibition games against a PBA selection and the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team during the league’s lockout.

Because of the labor dispute between the NBA players, the exhibition games — dubbed the SMART Ultimate All-Star Weekend — were not sanctioned by the league.

The last NBA team to tour the Philippines to play competitive matches were the 1979 Washington Bullets featuring Hall of Famers Wes Unseld and Elgin Baylor. They played against a selection of PBA stars in a series of exhibition matches.

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