Five years in and the Filipino summer basketball series shows no sign of slowing down.
The first day of the series started May 6 at St. Augustine Catholic School with 11 teams in two divisions ready to play, along with four female volleyball teams to add to the experience, explained spokesperson Jerry Nepomuceno.
The community basketball and volleyball league is intended to bring Filipino families together for sports and community spirit, said Nepomuceno, adding that anyone is welcome to join in. “We also have the St. Augustine teams joining us.”
There’s a division A (35 and under) and division B (36 and up) that will compete in the series once a week until the end of June.
The event is hosted by Christ’s Corridor Church of Ponoka but also brings countless volunteers to the event, explained Nepomuceno. For teams and families it brings people from Edmonton to Calgary. “We just would like to have fellowship. Bringing participation from the community through the sport of basketball.
When it comes to basketball in the Philippines, the sport is akin to hockey in Canada; everyone plays.
“Some people say it’s almost like a religion in the Philippines,” joked Nepomuceno. “Because every corner in the Philippines you notice (basketball courts).”
The intensity of the sport can be seen in the play and from the fans watching the series. And it wouldn’t be possible without the support of school administration, said Nepomuceno. The league originally started outside at the Ponoka Elementary School outdoor court but games were dependent on light and good weather for a game to occur.
Now that the games are indoors, it ensures the league can continue.
Nepomuceno thanked principal Kevin Prediger for collaborating with organizers but also for dedicated staff members and cleaners who ensured doors were open at the start of the day and closed by the end.
At the opening ceremonies Prediger pointed out that the league itself is all about community. “We watched essentially community and community building,” said Prediger, referring to the first time he watched the series.
“There’s one thing I’ve learned from the Filipino community and that’s the power of community and just how wonderful that is.”