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Brook Lopez, in Manila, looks forward to Nets future ... with him


The big guy gets around.

Days after the climbing the Manitou Incline in Colorado Springs with his teammates, Brook Lopez was in Manila Monday to serve as the NBA ambassador in announcing a new partnership between the league and AXA Philippines, the insurance giant.

He was asked about basketball in the Philippines; Andray Blatche, a member of the Philippines national team; and Nets prospects after a 20-62 record. He spoke glowingly about all three, especially the Nets ... and his role going forward.

Lopez acted as if he intends to be around for a long time.

“Moving forward, I’m just all in, trying to do all I can to help my team be successful,” he told local media. “We’ve got a great group of guys who really have that team-first attitude and we really believe that we can do something special as long as we put the effort out and we put the work in.

"We really improved, and our team never showed any quit," he stressed. "Those are important things to have."

The Philippines are indeed a basketball hotbed, something Lopez has known since high school when his point guard was a Filipino American.

“Just traveling around the country and seeing players in sandals or barefoot, it shows me the true passion and love for the game these people have,” he said on Monday, his second visit to the Philippines. “Coming out here the last time and seeing the passion that the Filipino fanbase has for basketball in general was overwhelming and amazing to me.”

Lopez said the country’s love of the game helped explain why his former Nets teammate, Andray Blatche, has been so popular a sports figure. Blatche joined Team Philippines after leaving the Nets and helped the team become a basketball power in Asia.

“Playing on the same team with him, he’s such an amazing talent. He made things easier for me and he’s just a great person to be around,” Lopez said.

Blatche recently led the Philippine national men's basketball team to a gold medal in the SEABA Men's Championship a couple of weeks ago. As a result, the Philippines booked slots in the FIBA Asia Cup and Asian Qualifiers later in the year.

The 6’10” Blatche, who played behind and alongside Lopez from 2012 through 2014 was not on hand for the event.

Lopez, leaning on his Filipino-American circle of friends, also said he’s aware of Kobe Paras, a 6’6” swingman to the United States. Paras suited up last year for Creighton before transferring to Cal State Northridge this year. The 19-year-old hopes become the first of his countrymen to suit up for an NBA team.

"It's great to see guys like Kobe, playing in America. He's being a great role model for younger players here," he said. "I'm confident the (Philippine) team will be competitive in the FIBA (tournaments), and they'll make it to the (2020) Olympics."

Under terms of the agreement between the NBA and AXA, the insurance company will sponsor NBA development projects throughout the country.