MANILA, Philippines â€“ Former NBA player Sam Perkins is in the country to promote the NBA preseason game between the Indiana Pacers and the Houston Rockets, which is slated on Oct. 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
And like every basketball-crazy Filipino fan, Perkins could hardly wait for the game and is happy for the opportunity to drum up interest for it.
â€œIâ€™m thrilled to be part of the process in staging the preseason here,â€ said Perkins, also fondly known as â€œBig Smoothâ€, during Tuesdayâ€™s press conference at the Mall of Asia.
Perkins, who suited up for the Pacers during his NBA days, will headline the NBAâ€™s â€œ100 day countdownâ€ to its global preseason games. He will stay in Manila from July 1-4 to conduct mall visits and participate in special programs.
Perkins said he is astounded at how the NBA has grown in popularity worldwide.
â€œThe interest of fans all over the world has grown so much from when I started playing in the NBA. We have never imagined how big it would become,â€ said Perkins, who came flew in to the country late Monday.
The Dallas Mavericks chose Perkins with the fourth overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, one slot after the Chicago Bulls drafted Michael Jordan. As a rookie with the Mavericks, he averaged 11.0 points and 7.4 rebounds (18.8 ppg in the playoffs) and made the NBA All-Rookie Team.
Perkins played a total of 18 seasons in the NBA, having stints with the Los Angeles Lakers, Seattle Supersonics and the Pacers.
NBA country manager for the Philippines Carlo Singson and Perkins kicked off the 100-day countdown to the historic event.
â€œIn October, all roads lead to the Mall of Asia. We still have many events for the fans from now to the big day and we want to thank the fans, media and everybody involved because of the support weâ€™ve had through the years,â€ said Singson. â€œSam will not be the last legend to come here. We hope we can bring one or two more legends to promote the Global Games so watch out for announcements soon.â€
Singson then referred to the upcoming NBA 3X Philippines from July 26-28, which will be graced by Rockets star James Harden and Eric Gordon of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Meanwhile, organizers of the Pacers-Rockets preseason game said majority of the tickets to the event have already been sold.
Nicole Deato, the Marketing and Sponsorship head of Mall of Asia Arena also bared that 71 percent of the tickets have already been sold.
â€œWe are 71 percent sold with all the tickets but we are excited to announce that we still have at least 700 tickets for each section for the fans who have been asking about the tickets,â€ said MOA Arena marketing and sponsorship head Nicole Deato.
With rumors circling that Lakers center Dwight Howard will be moving to the Rockets this offseason, Singson said that regardless of roster changes, both the Pacers and Rockets will bring all the players for the fans to watch live.
"If Dwight or any other player will be traded to Indiana or Houston, both teams will come in full force for the preseason. We heard Indiana will bring along a huge contingent, including some fans," he said.