It’s undeniable that basketball in the Philippines has been a significant part of Filipino culture. Whether in the provinces or the streets of Manila, one cannot miss a basketball court, either a makeshift one with a DIY basket or a complete one with everything from benches to a scoreboard.
Philippine basketball has come a long way and continues to develop as a sport in the country. This article will delve deeper into everything about basketball in the Philippines.
History of Basketball in the Philippines
The history of basketball in the Philippines dates to the American colonial period. American teachers introduced this sport to Filipinos in 1910 through the YMCA as part of the then Philippine public school system.
Basketball in the Philippines was first introduced as a women’s sport and was played in interscholastic events from 1911 to 1913. The idea of women playing basketball was met with a lot of opposition from conservative groups, especially the Catholic church. They viewed the bloomers worn by female Filipino basketball players during basketball games as inappropriate.
During that period (around 1910), the first basketball men’s national team was also formed. This team went ahead to win Far Eastern Championship Games in 1913. The team won nine out of the ten basketball game tournaments that took place from 1913-1934.
Later, the Philippines became a member of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) through the Basketball Association of the Philippines in 1936. The Philippines then made their debut in the Olympic games in the same year, finishing fifth in the competition.
Since then, the country has made quite a name for itself when it comes to this sport. For instance, the Filipino basketball team won the gold medal at the Asian Games, which took place in 1951. The country’s basketball team also won the 1954 FIBA World Championship bronze medal.
Philippine Basketball Association
Basketball in the Philippines wouldn’t be the developed sport it is now in the country if it were not for leagues like the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
The Philippine Basketball Association is a men’s professional basketball league comprising twelve company-branded franchise teams.
PBA was founded in 1975, becoming the first-ever men’s professional basketball league and the second oldest continuously existing league globally after the National Basketball Association (NBA). This league’s rules and regulations are a hybrid of the rules from FIBA and NBA.
PBA was founded after nine basketball teams decided to leave the Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA), which was highly controlled by the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP). MICAA basketball team owners were unhappy with how BAP took away players from their teams to join the national basketball team without consulting them.
PBA games are a little unique compared to other leagues. Usually, the league’s seasons are divided into three tournaments known as conferences. Each basketball game conference features all of the league’s twelve teams, and the winner of each conference is considered a league champion.
PBA has significantly influenced basketball in the Philippines in so many ways. It has allowed upcoming talented basketball players to shine—many young Filipino players dream of joining the PBA.
Philippine National Basketball Team and Famous Players
The Philippine Men’s National Basketball Team, also known as Gilas Pilipinas, is currently managed by the Basketball Federation of the Philippines.
The Philippines National Basketball Team was founded in 1913, putting the country in the international basketball spotlight for the first time by participating in the Far Eastern Championship Games. Since then, the team has shined in most of the international basketball game competitions it has participated in.
For starters, it won the bronze medal in the FIBA World Championship Games for men in 1954, setting the record for being the best team outside of America and Europe. The team also took the fifth position in the Summer Olympics, becoming the best team outside America, Europe, and Oceania.
In general, the Philippine National Basketball Team has had the most wins so far in the Olympics than all the other basketball teams outside America, Europe, and America.
The country has had some very talented basketball stars over the years. One of the greatest Filipino basketball players of all time was Johnny Abarrientos, who, despite his short stature, was a top-notch point guard. This basketball game player was so good that he had a shot at being the first-ever Filipino-born and bred player to play in the NBA in the late 1990s, specifically for the Charlotte Hornets.
Another excellent player is Junemar Fajardo, who has made his mark as one of the greatest players in the PBA. He has won the PBA MVP six times in consecutive seasons. There’s also Benjie Paras, who set the record for being the only basketball game player in the PBA to win the MVP and rookie of the year in the same season.
Olympic Games, Tournaments and Competitions Won By the Philippines
Basketball in the Philippines has had some major achievements, most of which placed the country in the limelight. The first win the Philippines had in regards to basketball was when the Philippines National Basketball Team won the Far Eastern Championship Games that took place from 1913-1934.
The Philippines also won the first-ever Asian Games held in New Delhi, India, in 1951. The team retained the Asian Games gold medal again in 1954. In 1958, the Philippines won the gold medal in the Asian Games again, with a 6-1 record. In 1960, the country’s national basketball game team won the first-ever Asian Basketball Confederation (now known as FIBA Asian Championship), which took place in Manila.
The Filipino team had its victory yet again in the Asian Games in 1962, held in Jakarta, Indonesia. This was the Philippines’ fourth consecutive win in this competition. In 1963, the team won first place for the second time in the FIBA Asian Championship. They retained the first position for the third time in 1967. The national team still maintained its first position in the FIBA Asian Championships again in 1973.
In 1977, the Filipino National Basketball Team won the gold medal in the first-ever South East Asian Games. It had its second win in the games again in 1979 and a third time in 1983. The team went ahead to win the FIBA Asian Championship title for the fifth time in 1985-1986.
This victory earned the Philippines the right to compete in the FIBA World Championships. Unfortunately, the national basketball game team couldn’t participate in the championship finals due to the political crisis in the country. And the victory goes on and on up until now.
There’s no denying that basketball in the Philippines has made some significant developments for centuries. This sport placed the country in the limelight before gaining independence from its colonial rulers.
Basketball in the Philippines isn’t just a sport; it’s a culture that Filipinos all across the country identify with. There’s no doubt that this sport will continue making big strides in the country in the future.
Why Is Basketball Considered As the Most Popular Sport In the Country?
For starters, basketball in the Philippines was introduced to Filipinos during the colonial period, making it part of the country’s identity. The Philippines also has several associations and leagues like the PBA that work to keep this sport alive locally and internationally.
Finally, basketball doesn’t require a lot of resources. All one needs is a basket and pole, which can be put together by almost everyone, making it easy for Filipinos to enjoy the game.
When Was Basketball Introduced in the Philippines?
Basketball in the Philippines was introduced in 1910 during the American colonial period. It was taught to Filipinos by American teachers as part of the school system.
What Are the 3 Most Interesting Facts About Basketball?
Basketball was invented in 1891 by a man named James Naismith. The sport was originally played with soccer balls, and referees had to retrieve the ball each time a basketball player made a basket. Lastly, dribbling wasn’t initially allowed in basketball. Instead, one had to throw the ball into the basket from wherever they caught it.