Former NBA player Lamar Odom is thrilled to get another shot at basketball as he is set to suit up for Mighty Sports in the 30th Dubai International Tournament.
In 2015, Odom was found unresponsive in a Nevada brothel due to cocaine use. Former teammate Kobe Bryant as well as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin reportedly visited him in the hospital while he was recovering.
That derailed his basketball career. Now he is cherishing an opportunity to strut his stuff anew, which will also serve as his warm up for the "Big 3" competition.
Odom arrived in the country on Wednesday barely a week before the Dubai tilt unfurls and met his teammates during the team's first practice a day later.
"I'm happy to be in Manila. It means a lot to me to restart my basketball career," said Odom during a press conference on Friday.
"I was at death's doorstep, so just the opportunity to play basketball is a win-win for me," he added.
A two-time champion with the Lakers, Odom will reinforce the Philippine side bannered Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee, Randolf Morris, former PBA star Joseph Yeo, and Gab Banal.
Other players in the team are University of the Philippines floor general Juan Gomez de Liano, recently-retired PBA player Jett Manuel, as well as college players Santi Santillan, Troy Rike, and Justin Gutang.
The team, which will be coached by Charles Tiu, is looking to atone for the country's performance last year where it wound up with just a single victory. That squad was composed of the San Beda Red Lions led by PBA rookie Robert Bolick.
The 39-year-old Odom last played in the NBA in 2013 with the LA Clippers. It was the same team that drafted him in 1999.
But he's been training on his own as he hopes to be tip-top shape in time for the Dubai tournament. In a post on Instagram last month, Odom said he is eager to play for the Philippines.
If there's an opportunity, the 6-foot-10 forward, a first-timer in Manila, would love to extend his stay here and play in the PBA or Alab Pilipinas.
"Well, I love it here. This is my first time. Filipinos have been very welcoming. I can see myself playing basketball here," he said.