Asia Minute: Season of Drama in Philippines Basketball

Feb 1, 2016

Credit cwlee80 / Flickr

If you’re a football fan, you’re now less than a week away from the Superbowl.  If you prefer basketball, the NBA all-star game is in a couple of weeks and we’re a month away from March Madness.  But in the Philippines, part of the basketball season is down to the wire. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

One stage of the professional basketball season in the Philippines has come down to its final game.  The San Miguel Beermen have stormed back from a deficit of three games to none in their Philippine Cup Finals series against the Alaska Aces.  That’s not a geographic reference—it’s a corporate one—as in “the Alaska Milk Corporation.”

All members of the Philippine Basketball Association are sponsored by companies.  That’s how you wind up with a team name like the “Texters”  The “Texters” are part of a telecommunications firm.  The “Beermen” are with the San Miguel Brewery.

There are other differences with the American game—pro teams play for three different tournament cups during a full season.  Basketball has been wildly popular in the Philippines ever since it was introduced by the US colonial government in 1910.  University basketball tournaments started in 1938, and the Philippines Basketball Association is second only to the NBA as the sport’s oldest professional league in the world.

Today, you find basketball courts all over Manila—in fact there’s a thriving online business in renting court time at locations all over the capital city.  As for the pros, the Beermen and the Aces take the court for game seven on Wednesday.