MANILA, Philippines --- "Linsanity" is coming to Manila.
Jeremy Lin, the player who came out of Harvard and touched off wild jubilation in New York last year, will lead the Houston Rockets when they come over to play the Indiana Pacers in the first NBA pre-season game in Manila.
Game day is Oct. 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena, where the announcement was made yesterday with no less than NBA commissioner David Stern doing the honors by recorded video from the NBA offices in New York.
"Our game in Manila is an exciting opportunity to connect with the passionate basketball fans in the Philippines and across Southeast Asia," said Stern. "The Philippines is an ideal setting for the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers to take part in a showcase for our game and give fans in the region an authentic experience."
Hans Sy, SM Prime Holdings Inc. president whose group is sponsoring the event, called the coming pre-season game historic.
"This is definitely sports history in the making," said Sy. "The Filipinos are one of the biggest basketball fans in the world. It is only fitting that we bring the NBA pre-season game to Philippine shores."
"Linsanity" was such a hit, that Lin, the Taiwanese-American who played for the New York Knicks and ignited the media explosion with his heroics, had the name filed as a trademark.
But he was traded to the Houston Rockets after his price soared and New York could not afford his new salary.
Besides Lin, also coming is James Harden, formerly of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who has blossomed into one of the NBA's superstars and recently played in the All-Star game.
They will face off with Paul George, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers, currently one of the leading teams in the NBA Eastern Conference.
The game marks the first time in 34 years that an NBA team will visit the country.
In 1979, the then Washington Bullets (now Wizards), led by future Hall of Famers Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, played an exhibition game against a PBA selection at the Araneta Coliseum.
The country also witnessed a gathering of NBA stars in July 2011 when Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and Harden played a pair of exhibition matches at the Big Dome against the PBA selection and the original Smart Gilas Pilipinas team.
The Rockets-Pacers game is part of the NBA's comprehensive schedule worldwide that will have eight teams play in eight cities in six countries this October.
The Oklahoma Thunder are set play in Istanbul while the Philadelphia 76ers will go to Bilbao, Spain.
The Thunder and 76ers then will play in Manchester, England while the Rockets and the Pacers collide in Taipei. The Chicago Bulls and the Wizards, on the other hand, clash in Rio de Janeiro and the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors in Beijing and Shanghai.
Scott Levy, the Senior Vice President and Marketing Director of NBA Asia, said that the pre-season encounter between the Rockets and the Pacers is a key to possibly having a regular NBA game in the near future in the Philippines.
"We'll continue to work on that opportunity," said Levy.
As for the ticket prices, Sy did not give any detail although he mentioned that SM will tap several sponsors to subsidize the expense. He said that information regarding the tickets will come out in the next few days, which a member of his staff said will be "reasonable" for NBA fans.