MANILA, Philippines – Linsanity is gripping the Philippines.
Jeremy Lin, the NBA's first American-born player of Taiwanese descent, stole the spotlight Tuesday as the Houston Rockets practiced for the first NBA preseason game in the basketball-obsessed country.
Lin was mobbed by reporters and photographers on a Manila basketball court, a day after the Rockets and Indiana Pacers arrived in the capital for Thursday's game.
Lin said he was thankful for a chance "to inspire people, especially my fellow Asians."
"I'm excited to play here and in Taiwan," he said. "I think the fans don't get a chance to often watch an NBA game live, so hopefully they'll really enjoy the experience and I think we're going to definitely enjoy it as well."
Lin said he's had a taste of the "electric environment" of the Philippines, which tops the list of countries outside the U.S. following the NBA on Facebook and Twitter.
Lin said his Taiwanese parents told him good things about the Philippines.
"I'm glad to see and feel the warmth they showed to me in person when I got the chance to walk in the mall last night. Everyone was polite, respectful and I was really blown away," he said.
Last season was Lin's first full season in the NBA, and he started all 82 games for Houston. In the previous two seasons, he played less than half seasons for the New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors.
"They were different times in my life," he said, comparing his stay with the Rockets and Knicks. "Different stages, different roles, different systems. ... I can't really compare the two. My goal is just to get better every year."
Handling fame and fortune, he said, are a "constant battle."
"I'm human. There's always that element of pride that I have to fight," he said, adding that his Christian faith "is very integral, not just me being an athlete but as a person."
Lin said he's trying not to think too much about the pressure to perform as an Asian-American in Asia.
"I think for me, I just want to be as much as myself as I can, and then be real and as authentic as I can be and let everything else follow," he said.