NBA stars coach youngsters in Manila
MANILA - The Indiana Pacers and Houston Rockets conducted basketball clinics for children on Wednesday, a day before the first NBA preseason match in the Philippines.
Both teams held clinics in Manila, with the Pacers teaching special-needs children at the seaside stadium and the Rockets teaching the basics of the game to students of a local public school.
NBA legends Ron Harper and Clyde Drexler joined two players from the Rockets as they went to a crowded public school in downtown Manila, sharing their expertise to the hundreds of excited children.
The players taught the children basic drills, while giving students tips on becoming a good athlete.
Rockets forward Chandler Parsons was surprised when he was tackled by the children.
"I've never seen anything like this, there's the passion, they're crazy, they're so obsessed with the sport, and it's unbelievable for us. It's an honour to come out here and play for them," he said.
School guidance counselor Loida Belen says basketball will help teach children discipline.
"Basketball can be their outlet because these children are all hyperactive. Aside from being academic, it will help develop their physical activities," she said.
The Pacers had a different crowd as they taught people with special needs how to have fun with basketball.
Alongside the basic drills the players added some games to the mix to help the children understand the concepts of the lessons.
"If you have a body, you're an athlete, and that is what we saw today," said NBA Director for Asia Sefu Bernard.
"We all have different abilities and capabilities, and these athletes here today are just as capable of having love and enjoying the game of basketball as much as anybody. Their abilities and capabilities are different than ours, and so we just want to share love and celebrate the passion for this game."
The Pacers and Rockets are in Manila for the first pre-season game in the Philippines on Thursday (October 10), where thousands of Filipino fans in the basketball-crazy country will get a chance to see top NBA players live.
Basketball is the country's most popular sport, with many Filipinos playing the game on makeshift courts right in the middle of the streets.
The game in the Philippines is part of NBA's comprehensive Global Games initiative which features eight pre-season games, in eight cities across six countries in October.