When people speak about how wild basketball is in the Philippines, the image that immediately comes to mind is one of the children running about in sandals as if they were playing the seventh and deciding game of the NBA Finals on a homemade court. You could picture folks walking around town wearing the wackiest NBA throwback jerseys you’ve ever seen.
They always claim that basketball can be found everywhere and are always correct. In the Philippines, regardless of whatever area of the nation you are in, you will be able to locate a place to play basketball quickly. Basketball finds you. The game will always find a way to surprise you, no matter where you are, whether you are in the middle of an oppressive city or the immense expanse of a far-flung location.
Yet, while discussing basketball in the Philippines, it is easy to fall into the trap of presenting tales that exaggerate and over-romanticize the country’s “amour” with the game. This is especially true when compared to the reality of the situation. There’s the issue of height (in a nation where people are 5-foot-somethings playing a sport for 6-foot-plus), and there’s the issue of footwear, or the lack thereof. Both of these issues are problematic (for a game that requires optimal shoe traction and support).
There’s a lot more to it than that regarding the Filipinos’ passion for the game. It is never ending and constantly improving. It is one of a kind, not because of what it does not have but because of what it strives to become. The book “Hoops Paradise: The Philippines’ Love of the Game” chronicles precisely this type of devotion to basketball.
“Hoops Paradise” is a podcast series consisting of six episodes that will discuss the Philippines’ insatiable passion for basketball while also devoting the attention that is well merited to the question of how this situation came to be and where it is likely to go from here. The series is bold in its objective and committed to conveying the love story as authentically and compellingly as possible. Cassidy Hubbarth of ESPN and Nikko Ramos of TITAN host it.
The hosting team of Hubbarth and Ramos is an efficient way to practice narrative, and their chemistry is as natural as “Stockton to Malone.” Ramos pounds it home with deep-cut Pinoy basketball allusions and IYKYK (if you know, you know) tales, while Hubbarth, who is half-Filipino, offers a master lesson in narrative podcasting. Rafe Bartholomew, the author of Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin’ in Flip-Flops and the Philippines’ Unexpected Love Affair with Basketball, has done an excellent job writing the episodes, which is undoubtedly a plus.
Tim Cone, the coach with the most victories in the history of the Professional Basketball Association, delivers a soundbite that is as weighty as all of his championship trophies combined in the trailer for the pod series.
“There is also basketball, in addition to religion and politics. These are the three topics most often discussed in the Philippines.”
There is no need to embellish that.
In addition to Cone, “Hoops Paradise” features commentary from seasoned announcer Sev Sarmenta, former member of the Philippine national team Jimmy Alapag, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, and Houston Rockets player Jalen Green, amongst other contributors. Their connections to the Philippines are not all on the same level, but their passion for the game is no deny it.
This time in the form of an audio compilation, “Hoops Paradise” is an additional illustration of how basketball has found new ways to be presented in the Philippines. In the introduction to the series, Hubbarth depicts the Philippines as a country where the sound of a bouncing ball serves as the background score to daily life. This podcast will go along with the music well and fit in wonderfully.
iHeartPodcasts is responsible for the distribution of “Hoops Paradise: The Philippines’ Love of the Game,” and it will be accessible via the iHeartRadio app and other places where podcasts are played.