Harden credits international stars for boosting Pinoy NBA dream
MANILA, Philippines – The Toronto Raptors brought more to the the game of basketball than just the 2019 NBA championship.
With a roster that includes Cameroon’s Most Improved Player Pascal Siakam, Spanish veteran Marc Gasol, Congolese-Spanish anchor Serge Ibaka, Taiwanese-American guard Jeremy Lin, British forward OG Anunoby and Canadian reserve Chris Boucher, the first non-US champs gave a strong international flavor in their title win.
This was noted by 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player James Harden, who credited the rise of international stars as a source of inspiration for Filipinos to chase the elusive NBA dream.
“It’s amazing. Amazing. Not just for Filipinos but for so many international players that are making it to the NBA,” he said in a special interview on Wednesday, June 26, at the Adidas Parkade in Taguig, one of his stops in his Free to Harden tour for Adidas.
“We’re taking the NBA not just in the US but just worldwide. That gives kids – whether you’re a Filipino or whether you’re in China or all over the world – that confidence like, 'Hey, look at my Filipino buddy, he made it to the NBA.'”
This was made in reference to Filipino NBA aspirants like the prized Kai Sotto, who has since taken his talents to Atlanta in the US for intensive training ahead of the FIBA U19 World Cup.
Apart from Sotto, other young stars who have Filipino blood are also taking the youth basketball scene by storm, with top NBA prospect Jalen Green being the most prominent.
Although Green has since committed to playing for the US in FIBA tournaments, the “Unicorn” hasn’t been shy of his Pinoy heritage, which he traces back to Ilocos Sur.
With the future of Filipino basketball progressing more smoothly than ever, it’s really only a matter of time before Pinoy pride takes over the NBA.
“Globally, the game of basketball is just on another level,” Harden concluded. – Rappler.com