LEBRON James is heading back to the Philippines – and Filipino fans could see him sharing a floor with a number of past and present Gilas stars.
The American basketball superstar, arguably the best player in the world, is to make his third visit to Philippines on September 2.
James will act as coach in an exhibition game between the national team that competed at the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon and a team of former Gilas players.
According to SPIN.ph, there is some suggestion that James could actually play at some point, which would likely see him line up alongside players such as Calvin Abueva, Jayson Castro and June Mar Fajardo.
The match is taking place as part of James’s Strive For Greatness show, in association with his sponsor Nike.
In a statement, the sportswear brand said the one-off game at the Mall of Asia Arena will see “the country’s finest basketball players going head-to-head in a spectacle of competition and basketball culture”.
Nike will also release three shoes linked to the LeBron James Tour Manila 2017 in limited quantities from September 1-3.
But while the National Basketball Association (NBA) star’s visit is no doubt commercially-focused, it could also present a rare opportunity for Filipino players and fans alike.
— Reinell Ranario (@ReinellRanario) August 23, 2017
The Cleveland Cavaliers superstar, a three-times NBA champion, had been due to visit Manila last year but his trip was cancelled due to what Nike termed “logistical challenges”.
The four-time MVP previously visited the country in 2013 on his Witness tour, and returned in 2015 for his Rise Beyond Belief tour.
Whether or not he actually gets any minutes on the court remains to be seen, especially so close to the new NBA season, which starts in October.
But his visit to Philippines is a timely boost for basketball in the country following Gilas’ disappointing seventh-place showing at the FIBA Asia Cup.