MANILA, Philippines -- The Indiana Pacers and the Houston Rockets put in some work on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena as they begin their preparations for their pre-season showdown later this week.
The two NBA franchises arrived in Manila on Monday for the NBA Global Games, the first-ever pre-season game to be staged in the country, which will be held on Thursday at the MOA Arena.
The Pacers, who last season pushed eventual NBA champions Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, took the court first, with team president Larry Bird watching the practice session closely.
"We had yesterday off because of the flight, so coach really wanted us to run and get our legs going ," said Indiana's Paul George, last season's Most Improved Player. "It's more about getting our legs fresh and running."
About an hour after the Pacers, it was the Rockets' turn to practice, with Boston Celtics legend Kevin McHale overseeing the session.
"I'm looking forward to seeing where we can go as a team," said McHale. "We got a long way to go. We're just starting with new players, a lot of new stuff, so as far as the finished product, I don't know what we're gonna be."
Although the game on Thursday is a pre-season game -- and so ultimately meaningless -- both the Pacers and the Rockets promised to play hard for the thousands of Filipinos who are expected to troop to the MOA Arena.
"We're gonna go out there and play hard," said Indiana center Roy Hibbert. "We'll play hard, we have our pride. You don't have to worry about us just running up and down and not giving it our all."
But Hibbert also noted that they may have to hold back just a bit in order to avoid suffering an injury.
"We gotta be safe," he sadi. "We do have 82 games going on. But the fans don't need to worry about us. I know I'm going to play hard."
Aside from their practice session, some members of the Indiana Pacers also made an appearance at the Cuneta Astrodome, where they surprised local players who were taking part in a league game.
Indiana's George, George Hill and NBA legend Jalen Rose dropped by at the Astrodome to play briefly with the locals.
A coaching clinic will be given by the Pacers and Rockets' coaches on Tuesday afternoon, while both teams will hold NBA Cares events at the MOA Arena on Wednesday.
The NBA Global Game between the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers will air live on Studio 23 at 7:30 p.m. on October 10.