NBA Commissioner David Stern liked what he saw after the Houston Rockets defeated the Indiana Pacers 116-96 at Thursday’s Global Games held in Manila, Philippines. It wasn’t the 20-point margin of victory or Rockets guard James Harden’s 21 points that impressed Stern, but the electric atmosphere of almost 13,000 attendants at the Mall of Asia Arena—the first venue in Southeast Asia to host an NBA Game.
The basketball-obsessed Filipino fans left a lasting impression on Stern, who foresees the NBA expanding to other regions of Southeast Asia.
"The NBA is always trying to find ways to take advantage of opportunities particularly in Southeast Asia, and the Philippines lead the way," Stern told USA Today Sports. "But we're beginning to see activity around like Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore."
On Sunday, the atmosphere could be even more electric as Houston and Indiana do battle again in Taiwan, which is the ancestral home of Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin. “Linsanity” could reach fever pitch and Lin is brimming with excitement.
"I'm excited to play here (in the Philippines) and in Taiwan," said Lin, who came off the bench and scored 14 points in 23 minutes. "I think the fans don't get a chance to often watch an NBA game live, so hopefully they'll really enjoy the experience and I think we're going to definitely enjoy it as well."