US Filipino Basketball Association competes in annual tournament
HOUSTON, TX — Despite being a game that traditionally favors height, playing basketball is very much a part of the Filipino way of life. Filipinos in the US are no different.
The US Filipino Basketball Association headed to Houston on Labor Day weekend for the third annual Iner-City Tournament. Competitive teams from 15 states all converged in Houston, hoping to win the coveted tournament title.
“We live and breath basketball. Being away from Manila, it is a good time for us to come together and bond. Coming from other states and cities,” said tournament player Marlon Cruz.
USFBA was formed 1989 in Chicago with a different name called NABA – the North American Basketball Association. They formed this “to fill the need for a vibrant, transparent and a dynamic basketball tournament for Filipino youths in North America.”
“Dahil sa Philippines kahit mga bata naglalaro sila sa kalye. Maske sa Kalye kino – close nila ang street para makapaglaro lamang. Now we get the chance to be in the US and Canada. To have facilities like this, we could develop our own talent to play basketball not only outside but inside,” said founder Ben Libao.
The Labor Day inter-city basketball tournament was developed in the spring of 2016 by the Chicago, DC, Houston and New York group. And has grown to engage Filipino basketball players of all ages.
“I’ve been a basketball mom for 18 years. I have two boys that are 10 years apart, and I don’t know my weekends being free outside of the Gym. Our goal is to keep the kids active,” said Wendy Flores.
Filipinos’ love of basketball is not going unnoticed. The NBA has been holding pre-season games in the Philippines, and NBA superstars such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have played in exhibition games in Manila, proving its importance.
“It’s is our #1 sport. For me, it is a privilege to honor to be able to play in America with the Filipinos,” said Alfonso Solis.
The next Inter-City Tournament will be held in August 2019 in the District of Columbia. About 80 teams from at least 15 cities across the U.S. and Canada are expected to participate.
Energy and hopes of winning are high ahead of the multi-day long tournament. But win or lose, playing basketball and being Filipino, go hand in hand.