You don’t need to go far to find a basketball rim in the Philippines. There will always be one in a court nearby. Residential areas in the city or in the mountain tops will always have space for a basketball court. Even commercial areas have playing courts. “Parking space by day, hoops area by night” is the usual arrangement. You’ll see rims hanging in walls, trees, and utility posts in urban or rural areas.
Why is the country obsessed with basketball? The answer can be traced back to the early 1900s. Americans used to occupy the Philippines and while they were there, the game of basketball was introduced to the Filipinos. Schools played against each other at first and that’s where the competitive spirit was born. Amateur and professional leagues would start popping up. As a result, the fans never stopped cheering. Let’s take a look at some of the Filipinos who are recently connected to the NBA.
A lot of Filipino fans already love the Los Angeles Lakers so you can imagine the hype when they found out that Clarkson would be playing for them back in 2014. A lot of Filipino fans already love LeBron James so you can imagine how excited they were when Clarkson was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018. They even made it to the NBA Finals but lost to the Golden State Warriors. Clarkson is no longer a Laker and no longer James’ teammate, but the fan support is still there. He recently won the Sixth Man of the Year award while playing for the Utah Jazz. So that’s something Filipino fans can brag about.
In the 2021 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets used their first-round pick to select Green. Fans were immediately impressed with his play in the NBA Summer League. Green, who was the second-overall pick, recently said that he feels like he should have been first. Can he prove it in the NBA? Filipino fans already know what to expect.
Spoelstra was the first Asian-American to earn a head coaching job in the NBA. His story of starting out as a video coordinator before becoming the head coach will always be retold in the Filipino community. He already won a title as a member of Miami Heat’s coaching staff in 2006 and won two more as the head coach when the team had James from 2010-2014.
Alapag just won the NBA Summer League title as an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings. This was actually his second stint with the team. His goal now is to join coach Luke Walton’s regular-season coaching staff. Alapag is no stranger to the basketball scene. He made his name as a point guard playing in the No. 1 professional league in the Philippines. He won the Rookie of the Year award and went on to win multiple championships.
Lauron was born in Texas to Filipino parents and is part of the Dallas Mavericks organization. She started out as an intern and now serves as the team’s social media manager. Digital content is a major component in the online world. Fans are always looking for any team’s social media presence across different platforms. That’s where people like Lauron make their mark.
Kai Sotto & Remy Martin
Neither Sotto nor Martin is in the NBA, but their chances to make it are there for the taking. Sotto was a member of the G-League’s Ignite squad but left to join Team Philippines to prepare for an international tournament. Sotto chose to join the Australian National Basketball League after his stint with the Philippines. Martin is still in college. He gained popularity playing for Arizona State University and has one year of eligibility left. He recently withdrew his name from the NBA draft to play for Kansas. Both Sotto and Martin will have to improve their skills in their respective leagues. If they do, the opportunity to play in the NBA may come sooner than later.
Follow Joey Almendras on Twitter @Buyaw
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images