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Harden, Gordon excited with new teammates

James Harden of the Houston Rockets (partly hidden) and Eric Gordon of the New Orleans Pelicans together with Memphis Grizzlies mascot and the Indiana Pacemates are swarmed by local media as they arrived in Sofitel in Manila on Wednesday for the NBA 3X press conference. Photo courtesy of NBA Philippines

Manila, Philippines - Handlers of James Harden of the Houston Rockets issued a strict reminder to media not to field any question related to new teammate Dwight Howard. But when asked by a misinformed media man the second time around, the second-time Manila visitor generously obliged.

"I'm excited to have Dwight (Howard) in the team," said Harden in Wednesday's NBA3X presented by Sprite presser at the Sofitel.

"I know he's focused on winning a ring, I am too," added Harden, who is easily recognizable due mainly to his freakishly long beard.

Harden mentioned Howard the second time around during group interviews and said although they will be optimistic to have the latter and several new key additions around, the Rockets will need to take "baby steps to win the championship."

The first time a question about Dwight Howard was asked, Harden's mood didn't sour and responded by saying, "what's the question again?"

Overall, Harden was accommodating to the media and answered various questions from his feelings the first time he was dealt from the Thunder to the Rockets to thoughts about his Houston coach, Kevin McHale, and teammate, Jeremy Lin, to the players he emulated in his younger years to the teams to beat in the coming 2013-14 season.

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On his move to Houston: "The transition happens so fast. Everything on the fly."

On McHale: "He's a great mentor. He's been into struggle, a Hall of famer, knows how to win. Im glad he's on my side."

On Lin: "Great talent."

On the players he idolized: "I watched Kobe a lot, T-Mac (Tracy McGrady), Penny Hardaway. I also watch a lot of NBA until now when I go home. I like KD (Kevin Durant), 'Bron (LeBron James) and Russell Westbrook and try to learn from them also."

On the teams to watch out this NBA season: "Teams to beat, the Miami Heat obviously. OKC  (Oklahoma City) and San Antonio are there. New York and Brooklyn too. So many great teams this year. The Golden State Warriors are also good."

Harden's mood turned sour when a media man accidentally spilled water to his iphone and was never the same from there.

Harden, who became an All-Star this year after he was dealt by Oklahoma City to Houston a season ago, arrived very early Wednesday to highlight this weekend's NBA3X presented by Sprite event along with New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon.

As for Gordon, he has set a lofty goal for himself after missing more than half of his first two seasons with the Pelicans.

"I have very exciting new teammates," said Gordon, referring to All-Stars Jrue Holdiay and Tyreke Evans, who were dealt on separate deals from the Phildelphia 76ers and the Sacramento Kings, respectively, a few weeks back.

"And I have set very high expectations for myself," he added.

The Indiana Pacemates, the Pacers' official cheerdancers, and Grizz, the Memphis Grizzlies' mascot, were also on hand to add spice to the NBA3X event set from July 26-28 at the Mall of Asia Music Hall.

Harden, who will be back in Manila on Oct. 10 for the Rockets' NBA pre-season game against the Indiana Pacers at the MOA Arena, and Gordon and recent Manila visitor LeBron James are not the only NBA stars coming to Manila as Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose and perhaps Michael Jordan are also scheduled to fly to the country this year courtesy of Lenovo Mobile, Adidas and Gatorade.

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