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Philippines, Taiwan Set to Host Pre-season NBA Games


The Philippines is welcoming the Indiana Pacers and Houston Rockets professional basketball teams on Thursday to play the first-ever NBA game in that Pacific nation.

"Linsanity" has come to Asia; the Houston Rockets and the team's Taiwanese-American sensation Jeremy Lin, are hitting the hardwood at Manila's Mall of Asia Arena ahead of their preseason game against the Indiana Pacers. The teams will then head to Taiwan for a second matchup on Sunday.

"I'm excited to play here and Taiwan, and I think the fans don't get a chance to watch the NBA game live, so hopefully they will really enjoy the experience. And I think we are going to enjoy it definitely as well,'' said Lin.

The Rockets have added center Dwight Howard to their lineup. He signed as a free agent after a less than stellar year with the Los Angeles Lakers.

"I always tell myself there's a rainbow after every storm, so I had that period of bad weather and I'm looking forward to the rainbow," said Howard, looking forward to the upcoming season.

The Pacers and head coach Frank Vogel are hungry to improve after losing to the NBA Champions, the Miami Heat, in last season's Eastern Conference finals.

"Still improving, that's probably how I rate it. Never feel satisfied with the job that we've done and, you know, you just have to keep studying the game, keep studying our team and playing them in the best position to win games,'' said Vogel.

Key to Thursday's game will be the return of injured player Danny Granger, who averaged nearly 19 points a game in the 2011 season.

"I'm just happy to be playing again. I tried last year but it was unsuccessful, but thankfully we have some good doctors in Indiana and I had a good surgeon, so I'm doing well," said Granger.

The Pacers-Rockets match-ups are part of the NBA's comprehensive Global Games, consisting of eight pre-season games to be played in six countries ahead of the start of the NBA season on October 29.
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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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