NBA / Sep 2, 2009 / 10:59 am

The Philippines Is The NBA’s Next Frontier


When Gerald wrote last week about cities that deserve an NBA team, he focused on just North American cities. But after reading that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dominique Wilkins, Vlade Divac, Robert Horry and Tim Hardaway were going to touch down in Manila next week, I realized they weren’t just there for vacation. Turns out Filipinos are crazy about the NBA.

“This country is probably No. 1 in the world on NBA brand awareness,” said Carlo Singson Sr., the manager for markets of NBA Asia during the NBA Madness event last year. “The fans are passionate, the percentage of people who play is awesome. NBA players who come here are amazed at how much Pinoys know about NBA teams and NBA players. NBA commissioner David Stern actually sees how important basketball is here and what it means to Filipinos. So the Philippines is definitely a priority market for the NBA.”

Not only is Stern sending five legends, but also six players from the D-League (Derrick Dial, Marcus Hubbard, Chris Ellis, Lanny Smith, Billy Thomas and Russell Robinson), six New Jersey Nets Dunking Divas and the Nets mascot, Sly the Silver Fox.

Check out these stats from the 2008 Sponsorship Intelligence research survey on the Philippines as an NBA market:

– 99 percent of the population is aware of the NBA
– 75 percent consider themselves to be NBA fans (eclipsing the Olympic Games at 58 percent and domestic basketball at 48 percent)
Basketball is the nation’s favorite participation sport—nearly four in 10 play, twice as many as the next most played sports of badminton and volleyball
– During the NBA Season, 62 percent of the population watch the NBA games on TV at least once a month and about 40 percent of the population watch the NBA on TV at least once a week
– 33 percent intend to buy NBA branded items within the next year, rising to 44 percent among men (significantly more than the Asia and global averages)

While no one would want a back-to-back from Memphis to Manila, you have to think David Stern has a map of the world’s 12th most populous country on the wall of his office.

Other than the Philippines, what other international cities should have an NBA franchise?

Source: Business Mirror

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  • Ric Hardwood

    Nice Article… As a Filipino who was handed a basketball minutes after birth, I agree. if Stephon Marbury wanted to retire as a respected baller, he should play in the Philippines. BBall players are respected in the Philippines.

  • ProphetGk

    Brazil, Spain, and Russia.

  • ToAn

    good read but i doubt some of the research numbers: 99 percent is a joke and that 75 percent of the whole POPULATION are fans seems also a little bit too much.
    @ ProphetGk…Brazil, Spain and Russia are states, not cities.

    as for the cities: London, Barcelona, Berlin, Moscow, Paris, Peking, Madrid and Athens.

  • jwest

    @ToAn: i think the numbers are true.. You don’t know how basketball crazy Filipinos are dude.. You’ll literally see a basketball court in every corner, just a few steps apart..

  • Shakers

    I spend time in Manila for work and everyone says that basketball is their favorite sport and that they follow the NBA. I didn’t realize that before going there and was pleasantly surprised to have a big similar interest as my coworkers there.

  • got’em

    man i’ve been saying this for a minute, there’s a basketball court in literally every neighborhood, poor people know who kobe and lebron are, not only do they know who they are they know what team they play for what their position is on their respective team and the Nike Logo that they rock.

    Basketball is crazy over there, we’re mostly known for individual sports, because team sports isn’t exactly our thing (see Pacman) and we are as a race are ‘height-challenged’ you may have the occasional six footer, but 6’5 and above is almost unheard of, def no 7 footers that play bball that’s worth scouting. We may not turn out Yao Mings or even a Yi, but filipinos are def HUGE fans of the game, i think the NBA knew all along but they kept this one close to the chest, i bet this is a project they’ve kept on the back burner and have just been waiting for the conditions to be perfect…getting an nba presence over there is perfect timing.

  • mess

    Crazy thing about Pinoys is that you see them playing in the streets with no shoes or flip-flops at the most, but is doesn’t stop them from having some crazy moves.

  • driveatsleep

    @ ToAn – “Brazil, Spain and Russia are states, not cities.”
    aren’t they countries?!

  • Mellmeister

    Filipinos Love Basketball… the statements are true… being able to play ball for one of the leagues in P.I. made me aware of this, if it’s basketball we talkin’ about… everybody is down… :) NBA awareness is one thing, even girls here in P.I. love basketball, ‘coz if you a baller here… you get all the ladies…. :P

  • jzsmoove

    Former NBA rejects, CBA studs and college standouts that eventually flop as pros definitely made splashes in the Philippines. David Thirdkill, Billy Ray Bates, Keith Smart, Winston Crite, Tony Harris are among former NBA players who played as imports and were household names. The country is a forgotten jewel, 50 years later they just never recovered from WWII. If not for meddlesome and corrupt people in the government, the Philippines would have been a US State way ahead of Alaska and Hawaii. Filipinos are most definitely basketball crazy!!!!!!!!!!!

  • sweetv0mit

    is proud to be a FLIP

  • sweetv0mit

    thanks for the props aron!

  • sweetv0mit

    and p.s. david noel from unc played in the philippines this year

  • muwu

    Just saw David Noel actually a few weeks ago at a Chili’s here in Manila. He’s playing in the local basketball league and he’s an all-star.

    Basketball courts here aren’t dedicated basketball courts a lot of the time, they’re streets with basketball stands put in them. Streets that cars still pass through! I don’t see many other countries like that

  • http://none Tululululu

    In a job interview here in Manila, They’ll ask if you play basketball then rate yourself from 1 to 10. And if you do rate yourself high it’s a big plus.

  • control

    How are the pickup games and women in Philippines?

    I might go there or New Zealand soon, and I want to keep ballin while on vacation…

  • jwest

    a few years ago, streetball legends like shea seals and lenny cooke balled in the P.I. and strutted their stuff here. Darvin Ham and Cedric Ceballos too! Gabe Muoneke coludn’t hang in here and got bolted out…

    We’re ballers here…


  • Saku 39

    The PBA is the second oldest basketball league next to the NBA. Filipinos know their ball.


    The Phils were on the way up after WWII but I think the Marcos administration put a hurt on the nation.

  • the_don_mega (representin’ the 3 stars and a sun)


  • akrflipz89

    Yup…Pinoys are definitely crazy about bball. To be a Filipino and not knowing how to play ball is an absolute disgrace. Gotta at least know the basics to be a true Flip.


    Manny Pacqiuao is the main attraction. When Pacman fights the rebels call for cease-fire! I guess that’s the 1% out of 99%.

  • Ricky

    I grew up in Philippines…that 99% is BS

  • kowtz

    Flips represent…

    Wars cease when championship games are played… ;)

    Larry Robinson played here… Lenny Cooke… Ansu Sesay…

    There are 7 footers worth scouting… Japet Aguilar AFAIK is playing in a DIV 1 school… ;)

    Besides, we always dream about the descendants of Karl Malone playing for the Phil National Team one day… Hahaha…

  • kowtz


    Our maid even knows what the NBA is… and she’s from the freakin mountains… she knows who Kobe Bryant is and she doesn’t even know how to work the freakin washing machine…

    Besides… People here are so NBA Crazy, availabillity of Basketball TV dictates which Cable provider you pick…

  • Mokmok

    Check this link and shed some light on how passionate filipinos are when it comes to basketball..=)


  • blah

    i’d agree. i don’t think i’ve met a filipino male that didn’t ball. being former military i’ve met a lot of filipinos.

  • http://deleted MNTwolves

    Finally, some love to my home country :D

    Those stats are really true, no doubt about that. People here are actually so basketball crazy, just give us a ring and a ball, wait a couple of minutes, and you’ll have a 5 on 5 basketball game already, no qualms about the court or the ball (rubber or leather, as long as it bounces, it’s good enough). Also, I think there is literally a basketball court in every corner, although it’s only street basketball… but hey, a match is still a match and there is usually a flock of audience watching it. I think more people here know more how to play basketball than playing with themselves. :D

    Plus, college ball here is crazy too, just try watching an ADMU vs DLSU game, it can pack a whole arena and sell out tickets in a couple of minutes.

    Just my two cents, the Philippines is the most exploited open market of the western countries, as we’re a country who would prefer international brands rather than local products. Also, our importation laws are very lax and our customs people are easily paid off, which makes exploiting us that much more easier, which in turn, prevents our country to prosper, since it’s our economy that gets hit the hardest by these opportunistic people.

  • sweetv0mit

    doesnt dennis rodmans dad live in the philippines?

  • JR

    sweetv0mit……… yes he does, he owns a bar here. Dennis was here few years ago and his pops went to his game, created a scene, coz Dennis didnt want him there.

  • akrfipz89

    @ Ricky

    I’m guessing you probably grew up in the country side or Mindanao, but here in Manila 99% of the population are aware of NBA.

  • sh!tfaced

    The Philippines is a bball crazy country, alright. Problem is Pinoys just don’t have the talent to play (world-class) basketball. No one is even close to making the league right now. That’s why you see former college standouts, busts and has-beens dominating in local leagues.

    “Flips” have the passion and maybe the skills, but not the fundamentals. Filipinos still play “one-footed”, though height and size are getting there.

    I definitely agree about Starbury playing in the Flip. He’d be as big as any superstar can be, nobody would care about the shit he did. Billy Ray Bates was an alcoholic with a record when he played and he was loved and worshiped by many.

    The 99% should have said 99% of the MALE pop, not the whole pop.

    Tangina. Noypi’s represent. LOL.

  • JR



    hoops is so big, that the presentors of the Singapore leg of Kobe’s tour were flown in from the PI

  • http://www.gmail.com UglyBetty

    South Africa needs HELP!

  • sweetv0mit

    you growing up in the Philippines is 99% BS

  • Mellmeister

    PINOY PRIDE!!! representin’ Staten Island…. to P.I.

    Pinoy are Basketball Crazy….

  • http://twitter.com/anthonyeladjo abpin

    damn. that’s a lot of filipinos.

    including me. ha.

  • sweetv0mit

    this shows you a lot of flips follow nba thru dime

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    Hell yeah Bay Area Pinoy’s represent…Daly City is the Filipino capital here in the states.

  • pinoybb

    Hell, even Manny Pacquiao owns a basketball team, a semi-pro team where he actually plays starting guard, along with his brother.

  • BoyBoy

    BRUCE says:

    Manny Pacqiuao is the main attraction. When Pacman fights the rebels call for cease-fire! I guess that’s the 1% out of 99%.

    Basketball and boxing go together here in the Philippines. Where there is basketball, there is boxing, and kicking, and elbowing, and bodyslamming!!! Hahaha!!!

  • http://manilatonight.com solomon (el latino machismo)

    yo yo yo… finally, some props to the PH…

    imma half filipino, and having to live some years in manila, i must say, that that 99% figure is kinda skewed…

    …maybe just 97% or 96%…

    anyway, pinoys (filipinos) love basketball like the european countries love their football (soccer)… it’s crazy… as mentioned above, be it wood, asphalt, concrete, soil (!), in a parking lot, in a dark alley, in the ghetto, under the bridge, doesn’t matter… just a damn ball (don’t matter even if it’s deformed, like worn out with mini titties bulging all over) and any effin excuse for a ring and you’d have yourself a ballgame…

    indeed, we’re kinda lacking in the height department, but we’re getting there… and besides, PH have arguably the best playmakers / guards in asia (see the fiba asia tourney)…

    and yeah, manny pacquiao plays hoops, too… he’s got some game in him… i remember watching him on tv play with local ex-pros in an exhibition game, manny did some jamal crawford-like oop-to-self to the board and finishing with some sweet reverse english… kinda awkward, though…

    and as for ex division 1 dudes, yeah, david noel balled in PH last season… i believe lenny cooke injured his achilles in PH… larry robinson balled in PH before his knicks stint, and that west guy before he balled in atlanta… darvin ham after his denver run… cedric c. when he aint nba-material anymore, earl barron before his miami gig… and much more…

    anyway, ain’t no BS but PH loves the NBA, period

  • arisloco

    You ain’t a Filipino if you don’t love basketball.


    At last, some props to the FLIPS!!!

  • ponky_alolor

    great article dime. Aron, you’ve been really putting in some work.

    Heck even the shoe companies have been stepping up for Pinoys(Hyperdunk & Hyperize Phils). Good times.

    I don’t know if we don’t have NBA talent, I think our fundamentals are there, it’s the lack of athleticism and height that most often than not gets in the way. But anyways, we love the sport that much getting into the NBA is just a bonus.

  • http://myspace.com/40sand9s loc

    I live in Taipei and couldn’t believe the NBA’s visibility here, and I’ve heard the Philippines is even more so. People love the NBA and basketball here, there is always a game to get in.

    An observence though as far as players go throughout asia having watched tournaments and local leagues.

    Everyone is a 2 or a 3, or WANTS to be a 2 or a 3. I’ve seen very few point guards who fit the north american definition and very few big men (I suppose China breaks the big man rule) but for the most part everyone is 5’6 to 6’2 I play with and most people have the same skill set, really solid jumpers to 17 feet but not to 3 range, good dribbles but try to do too much and 1 shit, and everyone seems to have “skidoosh” up and unders are around the rim, especially going from one side to the other side.

    With a change in coaching I think Asian basketball would develope into a more well rounded package and mroe dudes would start making it onto the NBA level and Countries would compete with the USA, Spain, Argentina, etc

  • heartbreaker85

    @ aron philips

    you can tell how much filipinos love basketball by the number of guys who posted above.

    99% isn’t skewed at all.

    basketball is the number 1 sport there with boxing and billiards 2nd and 3rd.

    basketball isnt even the number 1 sport in the us (that ranking belongs to baseball). euro and south america has soccer/futbol.

  • bigger_daddy

    wow, one article and seems now that aron has a following. hahahaha.

    stretching but that 99% might be true. one former mvp (danny i) confessed that when he was growing up they had to improvise and use a coconut as a basketball and a handmade basket as the goal. if its not love for the game then i dont know how to call it.

    maybe next time a pre-season game here in RP?

  • Raffy_Z

    definitely a pre-season game here in the RP!!! Magic vs. Lakers LOL!


  • Xrazie_thug

    Lovin’ the ladies here.

    Hope that the sons of Karl Malone and Ron Artest play for the national team when they grow up (their moms are Filipinas)

    If not for the f*Ck%d up politics, our basketball program would’ve gone strides by now. Although we have to resort to naturalization of players (C.J. Giles is a candidate) and the recruitment of half-breeds to strengthen the national squad in order to be competitive against our neighbors in Asia.

    But basketball will always be our sport. Regardless of mismatches in size, talent or skill, our heart and passion for the game more than make up for our dearth in the aforementioned qualities.

    Isang Bayan, Isang Laban (One Country, One Fight!)
    Team Pilipinas 2009

  • kulas

    yeah Filipinos are crazy for the sport.. we just lack the size for the 3, 4, and 5 spots, that’s why most of the time we get creamed in international ball, we don’t have enough big men.

    I believe I saw cedric ceballos in a mall about 3 years ago, i even asked him for an autograph, don’t know where I put it though..haha

    Our professional leagues are ok, but I still think we need more improvements to up the level of competition and professionalism of the players (I believe rossell ellis, a former PBA import, had an issue with the lackadaisical nature Filipino players treat their job), can’t find the link for the article though…

  • Josh Tha roc

    i can add to the argument slightly…i went into an asian food restaurant and just happened to be wearing a Lakers championship shirt, i was served by some middle aged filapino ladies. they kinda had a good look at me and cos im 6’6 basically got out the signature pads and were all like ‘you play for the lakers??’ they were real excited. but i was like nahh. i retospect i shoulda said yeah and got some free food. oh well live and you learn.

  • kulas
  • D-Money

    I happen to be filipino and a big NBA fan but I think that filipinos are into the wrong sport, unless there are genetic experiments going on to increase the heights and frames of filipinos, I do not see any full blood american born or imports in the NBA. I’m pretty sure they would excel in baseball given their height is not required to be 6 to 7 ft. Most of the asian countries like Korea, Taiwan, Japan focus more on baseball and even have imports playing in the MLB and their national teams can contend with any other int’l contenders. I remember when the Philippines won the Little League World Series (eventhough they cheated) and to get that far with very limited resources and coming from an impoversihed country should say something

  • Bola

    99% is quite steep but it is possible.. almost everyone knows who michael jordan is.. unless you’re from the mountain or island communities.. but for each and every island with access to television, basketball and nba are synonymous. Hard to admit but i only watch the local laegue during off-seasons or after the televised NBA game ( we got daily dose of nba action, by the way).. maybeits because of the level of talent and play.. size, hops, financial backing we ain’t got(relative to the rest of the world particularly the nba that is).. but love and heart for the game we will never lose..


  • Bola

    99% is quite steep but it is possible.. almost everyone knows who Michael Jordan is.. unless you’re from the mountain or island communities.. but for each and every island with access to television, basketball and NBA are synonymous. Hard to admit but i only watch the local league during off-seasons or after the televised NBA game ( we got daily dose of NBA action, by the way).. maybe its because of the level of talent and play.. size, hops, financial backing we ain’t got(relative to the rest of the world particularly the NBA that is).. but love and heart for the game we will never lose..


  • kowtz

    Flips love basketball…

    How much…

    Enough for them to play 5 versus 5 using basketballs as big as tennis balls to play hoops…

    We don’t care if we ain’t physically gifted to play the sport… that shows that we love it so much, we play it even as handicapped… ;D

  • http://TheNoLookPass.Com Rey-Rey

    You wanna rule the Philippines? Play basketball. Eventually, basketball players turn to acting after they retire… then they become politicians even though they know nothing about the economy. And those politicians are suddenly one step away from becoming President of the Philippines. Yup.

    And, yeah, a best gift to give to a Filipino male? A basketball.

  • http://pointsinthepaint.com/ Points in the Paint

    I am a testament as to how involved and obsessed Filipinos are with basketball and the NBA. I created my blog, Points in the Paint … http://pointsinthepaint.com/ as an outlet for my fantasy hoops mania!

  • http://mozilla baba

    Oh my! The greatest role player in the NBA, BIG SHOT ROB is here and I can’t go see him! Woe is me! I wish I have extra pesos right now

  • Andy

    Wow, The NBA is doing a great job and i admire all the players who visited the philippines. They go crazy with the NBA. I can say that the national sport is basketball
    LONG LIVE THE NBA anda thank you for time, you have given so much love for the game. GOD BLESS NBA PLAYERS