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The King, LeBron James, comes home to Ohio. The NBA celebrates its 75th anniversary.
Significant as the two occasions are, there’s one more milestone to mark when the 2022 NBA All-Star weekend takes place at the Rocket Mortgage Field House in Cleveland, Ohio, which will televise the Clorox Rising Stars on Saturday, February 19; State Farm All-Star Saturday Night on Sunday, February 20; and the 71st NBA All-Star Game on Monday, February 21 live across TV5, One Sports and NBA TV Philippines and on NBA League Pass, the NBA’s premium live game subscription service.
When the league tipped off last October, there were 109 players coming from 39 different countries outside the United States. This season, six of these international players got the invite to the annual glitzy gathering of league superstars.
Last year’s All-Star MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) and reigning league MVP Nikola Jokic (Serbia) earned spots in the starting lineups along with Joel Embiid (Cameroon) and first-time All-Star Andrew Wiggins (Canada). Luka Doncic (Slovenia) and Rudy Gobert (France) round out the international players suiting up in this year’s show.
Consistent with the NBA’s drive to become a truly global attraction, the other events that make up the All-Star weekend are also laced with international flavor.
The Clorox Rising Stars, the event that showcases the next generation of potential NBA big names, will parade six international players – Precious Achiuwa (Toronto Raptors; Nigeria), Chris Duarte (Indiana Pacers; Dominican Republic), Josh Giddey (Oklahoma City Thunder; Australia), Alperen Şengün (Houston Rockets; Turkey), Franz Wagner (Orlando Magic; Germany) and Dyson Daniels (NBA G League Ignite; Australia).
The Rising Stars event is also set to introduce a new format of four seven-player teams competing in a three-game mini-tournament. The winner of each game will be the team that hits the final target score.
Also looking poised to steal the thunder from other participants in the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge are the Antetokounmpo brothers from Greece, who have also ties to Nigeria – Giannis and Thanasis (Milwaukee Bucks) and Alex (NBA G League’s Raptors 905). This All-Star weekend staple side event will also be rolling out a new format: three teams of three players will participate in a four-round competition that tests shooting, passing, and dribbling ability.
The Mountain Dew® 3-Point Contest, which pits the league’s most potent and accurate gunners, will include Desmond Bane (Memphis Grizzlies; ties to Nigeria) and Patty Mills (Brooklyn Nets; Australia).
The increased number of international players has served as one of the main drivers that has propelled the NBA to extend its reach to a wider audience across different continents.
So more than just a showcase of the league’s biggest talents, the All-Star weekend has also become a spectacle that presents the NBA’s brightest international stars to a global audience.
In the Philippines, the All-Star Games also resonate strongly as the passion for the game remains unmatched and Filipinos prove to be among the most active fan demographics during the All-Star voting season.
The splendid plays of Filipino-Americans Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz and rookie Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets have contributed to the rapid growth in popularity of the league in the Philippines, which has long been looking for players to rally behind.
It helps that both Clarkson, last season’s Sixth Man of the Year, and Green, the No. 2 overall draft pick, openly acknowledge their Filipino roots, making them more relatable to NBA fans in the Philippines.
The country will be well-represented, too, in this year’s All-Star festivities, with Green playing for Team Worthy in the Rising Stars Challenge. The 20-year-old will also be one of the four participants in the AT&T Slam Dunk.
Multi-titled Filipino-American mentor Erik Spoelstra, who has steered the Miami Heat thus far to the best record in the East, will coach Team Durant in the centerpiece showdown on February 21.
The stint will be the second time for Spoelstra – the first Asian-American head coach to win an NBA championship – to call the shots in the All-Star game after his initial run in 2013. Just recently, Spoelstra was also named one of the 15 Greatest Coaches in NBA history.
Filipino fans have repaid with loyalty by following their Fil-Am stars. Since October 2021, Green has generated at least 19 million views from his highlight reels, ninth most in the entire NBA and the only rookie to make it to the top 10 players with the most views across NBA’s social platforms.
When he became the first Rocket in franchise history to record 30 points and eight triples last October 24 in a game against the Boston Celtics, Green’s highlights from the game garnered over 370,000 views on YouTube, with 30% of these views coming from the Philippines.
The NBA has also seen a spike in TV viewership and in the NBA League Pass during the two Filipino Heritage Nights that were staged this season featuring Clarkson and Green – the first on October 28 when the Rockets hosted the Jazz, then again on January 19 with the Jazz playing host to the visiting Rockets.
Fans in the Philippines can also purchase select NBA All-Star merchandise on NBAStore.com.ph. – Rappler.com