Dispatches: The NBA Finals in the Philippines

Melo is huge in the PI. See this cover story on Melo from Slam Philippines (http://www.slamonlineph.com/latest-news/slam-philippines-162-out-now/)

Melo is huge in the PI. See this cover story on Melo from Slam Philippines (http://www.slamonlineph.com/latest-news/slam-philippines-162-out-now/)

I’m back from the Philippines. Jet lag is my master.

But it was a good visit.

Basketball euphoria was high in Manila. Everyone was all about the Finals, despite the fact that we were tuning into games live at 8:30 AM local time.

A few thoughts on hoops in the Philippines below the fold.

A few bullets:

  • NBA Finals were Huge: An informal poll–i.e., talking to people–suggested that EVERYONE was paying attention to the Finals, at least to some degree. A higher percentage of Filipinos seemed to be attuned to the fact that there was a “Finals” going on than their American counterparts.
  • They really liked the Heat. In a country perhaps more obsessed with star power than the U.S. is, Miami was the natural favorite. LeBron, Wade, even Bosh – pick your poison. The Heat were the majority’s favorite.
  • A vocal minority liked the Spurs: This seemed to be more common among the “hard core” of fans–the ones who enjoy hoops as more than the cool thing to do and have played the game themselves or at least followed it for a long time. This sub-set of fans had all the right reasons to be rooting for the Spurs – and they were crushed when SAS couldn’t pull it out in Game 7.
  • But what about the Wolves? Maybe it was the timing of my trip, but there wasn’t as much Wolves interest as I thought there might be. Not many Love jerseys, maybe a few more Rubios. Everyone was focused on the Finals, and for good reason.
  • Fellow Melo Fans: The outlier to that pattern seemed to be the large number of Melo fans I encountered. I saw lots of fly Melo jerseys around Manila. The fans like the New York Cool. Who can blame them?


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6 responses to “Dispatches: The NBA Finals in the Philippines

  1. Good stuff.

    Did you perceive any extra love for the Heat because Erik Spoelstra is Filipino-American? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Spoelstra)

    • patrickj

      I was asked if I liked “Coach Eric.” The question came from a very savvy fan who was leading me (I think) because he knew Spo’s dilemma – really talented players make judging a coach difficult. But my sense was that overall, the fans were attracted to LBJ and Wade, and cared far less about the coach.

  2. Christian

    There aren’t a lot of Wolves fans here, at least not in my experience. Although, what that being said, most of the hardcore basketball fans know who Rubio and Love are. I’ve been a Wolves fans since the KG era, and among most people I know there’s hardly a Wolves supporter among them.

    • Christian–
      I suspect your experience (became a Wolves fan during KG Era) is not uncommon around the US and the globe. Garnett was pretty incredible. If the Wolves can start making the playoffs with this current group, I think Rubio could reach similar popularity, but it’ll never happen on losing teams.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Christian –
      I think you’re spot-on. In previous visits–and this one–my sense was that there were lots and lots of KG fans and not that many *Wolves* fans. Which makes sense given the lack of playoff success/exposure the Wolves have had. Hopefully that will change next season…