x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Linsanity arrives in Philippine capital

With the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers in the Philippines this week for the NBA's first ever preseason game there, Jeremy Lin is garnering heavy attention.

Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets arrived in Manila on Monday to a throng of Filipino basketball fans. Jay Directo / AFP
Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets arrived in Manila on Monday to a throng of Filipino basketball fans. Jay Directo / AFP

Agencies

MANILA, Philippines // Jeremy Lin has easily stolen the spotlight as the Houston Rockets practice for this week’s first ever NBA preseason game against the Indiana Pacers in the basketball-obsessed Philippines.

Lin was mobbed by reporters and photographers on a Manila basketball court on Tuesday, a day after the teams arrived in the Philippine capital.

Lin said he’s excited to play “in an electric environment.” He said his Taiwanese parents told him good things about the Philippines. He said he was glad to see and feel a warm welcome from people when he strolled in a mall.

He said he’s thankful to inspire people, “especially my fellow Asians.”

The preseason game is generating intense interest in the Philippines, which this year hosted the Fiba Asia Championship, losing in the final to Iran.

Organisers said ticket sales have been brisk despite the steep price. By Monday afternoon, the only available seats were courtside, costing up to US$1,200 (Dh4,400) – around 80 times the average daily wage of an ordinary labourer in Manila. Much of the focus has been on Lin, the Rockets point guard who is the first American of Asian descent to play in the league. His breakthrough season in 2012 led to a global following dubbed “Linsanity.”

Mark Anthony Marquez, a college student, said he was disappointed to miss out on $12 tickets, which quickly sold out. “Maybe I will camp out at the arena,” he said.

The Philippines, a former US colony, has had a long love affair with basketball.

Makeshift courts are found in street corners throughout the country, and parents often name their babes “Kobe” and “Michael Jordan” after popular NBA players. Manny Pacquiao, the boxer, considers himself a basketball aficionado.