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Pacers’ Hibbert ready for match-up with Howard

Roy Hibbert. (AP file photo)

MANILA, Philippines – Indiana Pacers slotman Roy Hibbert could hardly wait for the 2013-2014 NBA season to begin, having undergone an offseason program to improve his game.

The one-time NBA All-Star bared he planned a rigorous weight training regimen in the summer to improve his strength.

"I've been working hard in the summer lifting weights and I've put on some weight, moving up to 290 now," said Hibbert, who is one of the few remaining big men who plays mainly with his back-to-the-basket despite the influx of more athletic but smaller centers.

Hibbert along with his teammates and the Houston Rockets mingled with members of the media during a scrimmage at the Mall of Asia Arena on Tuesday, ready for their pre-season match at the same venue two days later.

"I built a lot of muscle over the summer so that I can go out there and move people inside," the 7'2 behemoth said. "Everything is good with our team. We eat together, hang out together and just spent 18 hours on flight."

Hibbert said he’s going all out in Thursday’s game

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"I'm going out there on Thursday to compete and play hard against the best big man in the league today," said Hibbert, referring to Dwight Howard, who has been arguably tagged as the best center in the NBA today.

The Pacers were one game away from entering the Finals last season after suffering a tough Game 7 loss to eventual champions Miami Heat in Eastern Conference Finals. Hibbert, for his part, hopes the new additions this off-season will push them to the top.

"We've added some stuff this past summer. We already have some pieces but we need to come together and play together so hopefully we play better this year," said Hibbert.

Indiana added veterans Luis Scola, CJ Watson, Chris Copeland in the offseason, and will be expecting the return of former All-Star Danny Granger from injury.

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