Pelicans’ Herb Jones calls trip to Philippines ‘eye-opening’ experience | Pelicans

NBA League Pass is a direct-to-consumer offering that gives fans access to any games that aren’t in their home markets.

Last season, the United States and China ranked first and second in League Pass subscriptions. Brazil and Australia ranked third and fourth.

The fifth-ranked country in League Pass subscribers? The Philippines, a nation in Southeast Asia that is a collection of more than 7,000 islands.

Last week, New Orleans Pelicans forward Herb Jones trekked to the Philippines as part of an NBA Cares initiative. Jones took a 13 hour-flight from Los Angeles to the Philippines, where he helped open a basketball court and spoke to youth players about the game.

“The ride to the court was super eye-opening,” Jones said. “Just to see the condition that some of the courts that a lot of the kids had to play on. You could tell they had a true love of the game because not a lot of the courts had lines on them with 3-point lines. It was a lot of dirt courts, makeshift courts. You could tell they really love the game of basketball because all they needed was a basketball and a hoop to spark their interest.”

Basketball has the highest participation rate among all sports in the Philippines. The NBA’s Facebook page has 8.4 million followers from the Philippines, the largest number outside of the US

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A Greensboro, Alabama, native, Jones called the decision to visit the Philippines as an NBA ambassador a “no-brainer.” It was an opportunity for him to visit a part of the world he’d never been to. His mother, Verlander Jones, accompanied him on the trip. Verlander Jones was an educator in Alabama for 27 years before she retired in June. She had never been outside of the US before their trip.

“I was expecting her to retire three of four years ago, but she’s a workaholic,” Jones said. “It’s hard for her to sit down now. You kind of have to respect those type of people who love working with people and who try to help anyone who needs it.

“It was her first time going out of the country. I think she was super excited to get out here.”

The Joneses traveled to a village in Bulacan, a province about an hour and a half drive north of Manila, the nation’s capital city, for the court dedication ceremony. Jones helped lead a clinic for youth players there. Jones said their passion for the game was apparent.

“Sometimes when NBA players meet fans, the general questions are, ‘Who is your toughest guard?’ “Jones said. “A lot of the younger fans were asking how could they be better on defense? Or how to be better teams. I think a lot of those questions will help the next generation to become better instead of just asking who I would like to guard going into next year.”

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