MANILA, Philippines - Still awed by the recent historic Philippine visit by LeBron James, Filipino fans get another treat as two more NBA stars are set to arrive today – James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Eric Gordon of the New Orleans Pelicans.
“We’re excited to have All-Star James Harden and Eric Gordon join us for NBA 3X,” Carlo Singson, NBA Phl country manager, yesterday told The STAR.
“Their appearance will make this event even more exciting and will inspire players to do their best in this year’s competition,” he added.
It marks the second time that Harden will visit the country after taking part in the Ultimate All-Star Weekend two years ago, joining NBA stars like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans.
But Harden, easily noticeable because of his freakishly long beard, is a bigger star now after getting traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Rockets last year where he immediately gained his first All-Star nod.
“I’m excited to return to the Philippines to be a part of NBA 3X,” said Harden, who steered the Rockets to the playoffs for the first time since the 2008-09 season when he led the team in scoring (26.33 per game), assists (4.50 per game) and steals (2.00 per game).
“Filipinos have an unmatched passion for basketball and I look forward to meeting the fans and catching some of the best basketball talent the country has to offer,” he added.
Interestingly, Harden will return to the country on Oct. 10 when his Rockets clash with the Indiana Pacers, the Eastern Conference finalists, in a pre-season game at the MOA Arena.
Gordon, for his part, was an emerging star during his Los Angeles Clippers days but has seen limited action with the Pelicans due to various injuries that befell him the past two seasons.
Harden and Gordon will highlight the NBA 3X event at the SM Mall of Asia from July 26-28.
Harden, Gordon and James, who arrived Monday afternoon and left early yesterday for a promotional tour by Nike Phl, are just three of the NBA players visiting the country this year.
Also scheduled to visit the country are Bryant courtesy of Lenovo Mobile on Aug. 12, Adidas endorser Derrick Rose this September and possibly His Airness himself – Michael Jordan – any time this year.