Sunday’s highly-anticipated NBA All-Star Game is expected to generate millions of international viewers from outside the United States. There’s going to be no shortage of representation from the Philippines in the virtual audience despite the fact that the game is scheduled right smack in the middle of a workday in the basketball-crazed nation. As always, all eyes will be on Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.

Don’t get me wrong. Filipinos are some of the most educated basketball fans out there. Their passion for all things NBA can match up with the very best of them. However, there’s also no denying that the Filipino people also have an undying love affair with the great LeBron James. For his part, the newly-minted all-time leading scorer has reciprocated the support from the Southeast Asian nation as he sends some love to the Philippine Islands ahead of the NBA All-Star game:

“First of all, before we even collaborated (with local brand Titan), I had an opportunity to go to the Philippines and do a couple of things with Nike and continue to promote the game of basketball,” LeBron said. “(I) played in a couple of All-Star games over there as well. (I) went throughout the city and had an unbelievable time being in the Philippines. So I’ve always had a great deal of respect and love for Manila. It’s great.”

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As a Filipino, I approve of this message. To be fair, anything that LeBron says about the Philippines (so long as it’s in a positive light, of course) is already newsworthy in this part of the world. His mere mention of “Manila,” the nation’s bustling capital, is enough to send chills halfway across the globe.

LeBron James, mabuhay ka!