The Indiana Pacers traveled to Southeast Asia this week to play a preseason game Thursday (7:30 a.m. ET, Fox Sports Indiana) against the Houston Rockets. The matchup, part of the NBA's Global Games initiative, will be the first ever played in the Philippines, tipping off at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Airport workers greet Pacers on arrival at Manila. pic.twitter.com/ymV34xeKXJ— David Benner (@PacersDMB) October 7, 2013
This is the second time Indiana has traveled overseas to play a preseason game, travelling to Taipei and Beijing back in 2009 for a two-game stint. Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger are the only two remaining Pacers from that trip.
The matchup has generated a lot of excitement in Metropolitan Manila, with many fans and media alike pining to meet and greet some of the players. One of the hottest commodities is Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin, the first American-born player of Asian descent in the league.
Ticket sales, too, show the excitement. According to a report by Agence France-Presse (h/t Yahoo! Sports), the only remaining tickets are courtside only, and are going for anywhere between $770 and $1,200 per ticket—or around 80 times what an ordinary Manila laborer makes in one day.
Both teams are coming off of losses in their first preseason games, with the Pacers falling to the Bulls 82-76, and the Rockets losing to the Pelicans 116-115. For both teams, this seems to be more about the experience and less about the game. But regardless, preseason games are played for a reason; there is work to be done.
Danny Granger will look to continue getting back into game shape for the blue and gold. Granger managed six points and zero rebounds in 29 minutes of action vs. the Bulls. Following the game, Granger said this of his first game back since knee surgery in March (per the Pacers' official Twitter feed):
Granger on his return: "My second wind didn't kick in during the 1st half like it usually does, but it was good to get that under my belt.”— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) October 6, 2013
It will be interesting to see how head coach Frank Vogel plans to use Granger in the long run, but fans shouldn't look at preseason minutes as any indication. Granger's minutes in the preseason should strictly be viewed as time getting back up to speed.