Basketball the game of choice for Filipinos around the world
The Philippines is home to vastly different scenes, cultures and foods. However, across the nation, whether that be the fishing villages along Laguna, or the bustling streets of Manila, the people will have one thing in common; basketball.
Drawing from this passion, Sydney-based Homegrown Basketball Australia is nurturing talent to form strong relationships between Australia and the Philippines.
Homegrown Basketball Australia began as a community-based sporting organisation and has grown to service enthusiasts across Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
Team managers Cromwell Alvarez and Karlo Basa, and coaches Roger Mantua and Rey Reculya, are working to further develop the sport in Australia, playing an integral role in connecting players with professional teams in the Philippines.
“Starting Homegrown Basketball and the Western Sydney Basketball Association have been my greatest achievements so far,” team manager Cromwell said.
“Being able to send Filipino-Australian kids to the Philippines, and being able to set them up with scholarships, is so rewarding.”
The National Basketball Training Centre (NBTC), the Philippines’ largest grassroots program, is also working with children in more provinces across the country to level the playing field between players in urban and regional areas.
Homegrown Basketball Australia has partnered with the NBTC to send Australian teams to the Philippines to play in their annual tournament; a championship watched by thousands of scouts from various schools and colleges.
“The sport is a religion to most Filipino fanatics,” Cromwell said.
Filipino Basketball is on the rise and the more exposure the Philippines gets on the international stage, the bigger Philippine Basketball will get.
“More and more players, and not just Filipinos, are interested in playing in the Philippines because they now know what Philippine Basketball has to offer.”
The Filipinos’ love of basketball began when American colonists included the sport in revisions of the official school system in 1898. Fifteen years later, the sport grew tenfold, with the Philippine team winning gold in the 1913 Far Eastern Games.
Today, the sport continues to play a huge role in Pinoy sporting culture thanks to its low-costs, basic maintenance and a minimal space requirement, making it the game of choice for many living in poverty-stricken Philippines.
Its accessibility is a real key as to why so many Filipinos play basketball; it’s fast and entertaining, and easy to learn, but hard to master.
“But, the Philippines’ number one basketball achievement is having high school and college sporting scholarships available for kids who can’t afford their education,” Cromwell explained.