by Brian Yalung
Like his previous Manila trips, Houston Rockets star James Harden enjoyed every minute of his stay during his Adidas Asia Summer Tour.
Harden, 29, arrived on Tuesday and engaged in several basketball-related activities capped by the main event – the Free To Harden Freestyle Hub – held at the SMX Convention Center Wednesday night.
“It’s great to be back in the Philippines and I’m thankful to Adidas and my fans for the warm welcome. I’m already looking forward to my next trip back here,” said Harden.
The 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player kicked off his trip by visiting the University of the Philippines where Adidas is refurbishing the College of Human Kinetics basketball court.
He also gave words of encouragement to the members of the National Wheelchair Basketball Team and UP Women’s Basketball team.
Harden also expressed delight – and proud of it – to see his popular step back move being copied everywhere.
“I look at my step back and at the level that I’ve taken it to. I see it everywhere, especially in kids who are exploring it and trying to be more creative. Step back was already a move but the way it has evolved, it just continues to grow,” said Harden.
As far as the Houston Rockets are concerned, the third overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft was asked on the lessons learned from last season and what Harden thinks need to be tweaked for the 2019-20 NBA wars.
“We just gotta stay healthy. That was one of the reasons that kind of set us back this past year. Health is something you really can’t control, its basketball. Injuries happen. We just got to continue getting better. Myself, Chris (Paul) and everybody that’s on the roster. Come back a little bit better and fill up the pieces that we need to fill,” replied Harden.
But if there is one thing that Harden emphasized, it is confidence. He repeatedly pointed to it as the key to success and apparently it is the same thing he feels the Rockets will need next NBA season.
“We gave ourselves a chance last year, we fell short. So we got to make the team better. It doesn’t stop. We just have to come back and be stronger and better. We can’t dwell on the past, we can’t be sad about it. We got to continue to push until we reach our goal,” explained Harden.
Harden capped the night with the Free To Harden Freestyle Hub, the main event which saw fans and local cage stars interact with the 2012 NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Among those present include Kobe Paras, Bright Akhuetie, Jerrick Ahanmisi, Renzo Subido, Troy Rike, and Roosevelt Adams. PBA players Rashawn McCarthy and Rey Nambatac were also on hand to participate in some of the activities.
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