Basketball is everywhere in the Philippines, on makeshift courts in the tiniest barangays, on hardwood floors of sports clubs, and on television screens of almost every home in the archipelago. But, have you ever wondered how this nation’s love affair with basketball exactly started?
How It All Started
You probably know that Americans are the ones who introduced the game of hoops to Filipinos. In 1898, American colonizers revised the Philippine school system and included the sport in it. They also taught Filipino students baseball, but basketball was the sport that took off.
In 1938, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) — one of the biggest collegiate leagues today — was formed, with basketball as the central sport. UAAP basketball games remain popular to this day. Just look at the thousands of students and fans who troop to Araneta Coliseum or MOA Arena for each UAAP season’s basketball finals.
In fact, basketball, in general, is in the heart of Filipinos. The addition of basketball courts in their constituency communities have always been part of the proposals of members of Congress and mayoral candidates over the years.
Looking at the early beginnings of basketball in the Philippines, you can say that the country’s school system nurtured Filipinos’ love for the sport. But outside the school grounds or varsity leagues, what makes basketball a hit?
The Sport That Fits into the Filipino Culture
Sports experts say that the accessibility and entertainment factor of basketball are the key reasons this sport has merged well with the Filipino culture. After all, compared with soccer or baseball fields, basketball courts require less space and maintenance. You also don’t need expensive gears or a large, exact number of players to enjoy a social game of basketball. The sport is, indeed, accessible, even for the most poverty-stricken towns in the country.
Besides being accessible, basketball offers a unique brand of entertainment to both players and spectators. Many Filipinos enjoy being kept on the edge of their seats by watching the two teams outscore one another in every quarter.
The sport is a big source of entertainment for everyone that it has become the main attraction of community centers in many new property developments today, as illustrated in Land Estimate’s recent Lancaster New City, Cavite properties review.
With basketball fitting seamlessly into the Philippines’ history and culture, it is no wonder that this sport is in the hearts of Filipinos — on and off the court.