For Filipinos, basketball means more than just recreation. The sport influences communities and culture, and each citizen has a remarkable basketball story to tell.
From sidewalk athletes to prisoners, from people with disabilities to shoe enthusiasts, every Filipino, regardless of region, status or place in society, considers basketball an inherent part of life.
The Philippines, no doubt, is a basketball country.
A former editor and an author from the United States, Rafe Bartholomew, discovered the multifaceted, phenomenal Philippine basketball culture six years ago. He published a book—Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin’ in Flip-Flops and the Philippines’ Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball —an in-depth look on Pinoy ball.
He returns to the Philippines with the same gusto for the subject as he hosts Hoop Nation, CNN Philippines’ newest documentary series.
Bartholomew goes around the Philippines, immersing in the country’s colorful basketball culture. He explores the streets of Tondo, playing with sidewalk athletes in makeshift basketball courts, uncovers the spirit of basketball players with physical disabilities, profiles the most prolific characters in professional basketball, and goes behind the court to discover the secrets of the most iconic basketball teams.
“Every episode of Hoop Nation delves into some aspect of Philippine basketball, from the grassroots level all the way up to the PBA and UAAP. That’s one of the most amazing things about using basketball as a way to learn about people’s lives here in the Philippines—the sport connects so many people that their stories become almost universally relatable. It’s not about basketball, it’s about humanity,” Bartholomew said, reflecting on how deeply entrenched basketball is into Filipino living
Hoop Nation airs every Saturday at 7 p.m. on CNN Philippines Free TV Channel 9.