NBA looks to expand presence in Singapore

SINGAPORE - Regular NBA season games are now held in the UK, while the one of the popular league's pre-season games will come to South-east Asia for the first time this October, when the Indiana Pacers face Houston Rockets in Manila.

And there is every possibility that Singapore - perhaps the upcoming Singapore Sports Hub - will host one of these events in the future as the franchise looks to expand its presence here.

NBA Asia, currently headquartered in Hong Kong, is also keen to establish a base in the Republic.

Said NBA Asia's vice-president of business development and marketing partnerships, Francesco Suarez: "Singapore is a very important market for us, as a market in itself and as an opinion leader and hub for the surrounding region.

"It is one country that we're very interested in, and we are continuing to increase our level of activity and presence here. We'd like to have an on-the-ground presence in the future."

Launch

Suarez was speaking to The New Paper yesterday morning at the launch of the NBA 3X 3-on-3 tournament here next month.

The initiative is a ramp-up from the franchise's previous activities here, such as the 2010 Basketball Without Borders Asia programme and clinics conducted by Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra last year.

Suarez said: "We want to grow the game - we want all the local leagues and federations in each country around this region to be successful and produce good basketball players.

"There are things we have done in the past to help with that and there are things that we are going to do in the future to help with that."

He believes a South-east Asian player will eventually play in the NBA.

He said: "We think that the way in which the number of players from outside the US is growing in the NBA is irreversible.

"In China, basketball grew to a point where they have a developed league and produced a player like Yao Ming.

"As basketball continues to grow in markets in this region we will see more parallels with that story, along with that of Spain and France, whereby basketball has grown to a certain level of sophistication and skill that players come up to the NBA."


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