Perhaps, there is no country in the world that is crazier about basketball than the Philippines. Stroll down the metro and you will notice a hoop in every street, to the point that the road is closed when there is a tournament. Downright irritating at times it causes a traffic build-up but that’s how we are.
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A basketball aficionado may not have the moves of Terrence Romeo, the height, and heft of June Mar Fajardo, the savvy of Jason Castro or the cunning of Calvin Abueva but you will be amazed at their basketball know-how. Ask anything about basketball and you’ll have a reply that will make you scratch your head in astonishment. See them wear the jersey and sneakers of famous foreign and local stars and they will even imitate their moves when they are on the court.
Part of the popularity can be attributed to the achievements of the basketball legends of yesteryears – the likes of Caloy Loyzaga, Tony Genato, Lauro Mumar et al. who led the Philippines to a third place, bronze medal, finish in the 1954 FIBA World Cup. To date, no other Asian country has duplicated this feat. We had numerous gold medal finishes in the Asian Basketball Conference (ABC).
Thanks to the support of universities and colleges with their dynamic sports program, UAAP and NCAA, extending to the grassroots level. Talent scouts of professional teams in the PBA recruit players who show promise; this is where superstars are born. Senator Manny Pacquiao organized the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) which is fast gaining recognition. Initially, the tournament comprises basketball teams only in Luzon but this will be extended to Visayas and Mindanao to accommodate the requests from these regions.
The game and the players evolved. There were improvements in the game to make it more exciting.
- The 3-point shot will allow a trailing team to make a comeback; the 24-second rule made the game fast; the 3-second defensive alignment makes it hard for a player to shoot the ball with constant guarding.
- Small guards, the likes of Steph Curry (6’3”, 1.9m), execute the plays of the team with precision and can accurately shoot the ball from the parking lot. Do-it-all power forwards like LeBron James (6’8”, 2.03m) has to contribute in all facets of the game, even throw the kitchen sink if necessary. Biggies, Kevin Durant (6’10.75”, 2.10m), dribbles the ball like a guard and can make a shot with his eyes closed.
- Nowadays, a player should be well-rounded. It’s all about statistics. I’m talking about rebounds, more offensive rebounds the better; a 40% shooting clip is average; 10 assists are the benchmark; blocks and hustle play. A LeBron James will achieve a triple-double and more every night, just like an ordinary day at the office.
The media play an important role in the development of this basketball frenzy. They cover almost every basketball tournament from here and abroad like the PBA, NBA, PBA D-League, UAAP, NCAA, MPBL, ABL, FIBA games and more that will satisfy the yearning of a basketball junkie. To make the game more exciting, highlight plays are accentuated like the play of the game, best shot, 3-point shot, block shot, steal of the game, and assist. Sportscasters will keep you tuned to the boob tube with a colorful running commentary of the game and analysis on what transpired. The camera crew produces shots using the various views in the arena, keeping the viewer informed on the thrills of the game.
Did you see the basketball, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the melee between the Aussie’s Boomers and the Pinoy’s Gilas? I know we’re crazy but this shouldn’t have happened in our house.