Donovan Mitchell makes his pitch for Paul George joining the Utah Jazz during a promotional visit to the Philippines

Donovan Mitchell makes his pitch for Paul George joining the Utah Jazz during a promotional visit to the Philippines

The Philippines is a basketball-crazy country.

Fans of the game can be found throughout the archipelago, from the capital’s state-of-the-art arenas to the province’s coconut tree-encompassed courts.

And ballers, both young and old, play anytime, anywhere, anyway — even in "tsinelas" (flip-flops) or with netless rims of twisted rebar and backboards made from plywood.

It should come as no surprise, then, that when Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell visited the Philippines this weekend for a short promotional tour with Adidas, it was a big deal among locals.

During one of his first stops, the 21-year-old held a press conference with the country’s major news outlets, answering questions about his rookie season and plans for next year. He even made a recruitment pitch to Paul George.

"We have guys who want to play with him," Mitchell told CNN Philippines. "A guy like him will thrive in our organization."

To further lure PG-13, Spida also talked up the team’s fans as well as the city of Salt Lake.

"We have a crowd that’s incredible and sells out every night," he said. "Salt Lake City is a beautiful place. People don’t give it enough credit. I’m from New York, and I’m saying that it’s a really beautiful place."

Later on, Mitchell held a basketball camp for Filipino youths and a 3-point shootout for charity with some of the country’s professional and collegiate hoop stars.

We have guys who want to play with him. A guy like him will thrive in our organization.
Donovan Mitchell

The event took place at Taft Food by the Court, a basketball complex in Pasay, one of the 16 highly urbanized cities that make up Metro Manila in the National Capital Region.

"Thankful (ako) kasi once in a lifetime lang maka-meet ng ganyang players, tapos siya pa. Nag-eexcell siya sa NBA as a rookie, kaya sobrang saya ko," Penny Estacio, one of the kids who participated in the camp, told ABS-CBN in Tagalog. (Translation: I’m thankful because it’s just once in a lifetime that you get to meet players like that. Plus it’s him. He excelled in the NBA as a rookie, so I’m very happy.)

Mitchell finished the tour by attending a PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) game between two of the league’s top teams, Ginebra and Magnolia, at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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During the contest, he briefly joined veteran broadcasters Quinito Henson and Magoo Marjon as the third man in the broadcast booth, providing analysis during the second quarter and telling the duo he would like to be a broadcaster once he’s done playing basketball.

Demonstrating the cultural Filipino trait of "utang na loob" (debt of gratitude), the rookie of the year finalist interacted with fans throughout his visit.

"This is awesome," he told ABS-CBN about the welcome he received. "I see all the people outside. I wanna give them love."

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Published at Mon, 18 Jun 2018 17:13:00 +0000