Aotearoa New Zealand’s national sport is rugby. It is passionately played, watched and supported by Kiwis of all ages and ethnicities. More so now, that we have the Rugby World Cup in Japan, with the Kiwis as the defending champions.
I always say to my Kiwi friends, “for short people like us we love basketball so much!” They are amazed on how passionate and dedicated we are with the sport! Almost every day of the week, most especially on Saturdays and Sundays, there is a basketball game or a league playing in the nearest community centre, school gym, or weather permitting (now that Spring is here) in an open court. It is played primarily by boys of all ages, some starting as early as seven, all the way to the over 50s, who have their own bracket, interestingly called Legends.
With this in mind, Kiwinoy (Kiwi-Pinoy) entrepreneur Eddie Katigbak of Ekson Financial Services, saw an opportunity to combine Filipinos love for basketball with the technical expertise of the Sky Sport Breakers NZ, the only professional basketball team in the country, playing in the Australian NBL. His vision is to start the training of these kids as early as possible, the proper way, with the dream of perhaps having a Kiwinoy playing for the Breakers and later on the Tall Blacks, NZ’s national team. This is the first collaboration of its kind involving an ethnic community. Katigbak, found a willing partner with the Pinoy Mavs, a Filipino community group that has been training boys and a few girls for many years.
Now on its third session, I got the opportunity to see them in training last Saturday. There were more than 50 boys and girls who participated, and it was gratifying to see the parents on the sidelines encouraging their children.
As Philippine ambassador to New Zealand Jesus Gary Domingo emphasized during his pep talk, “we have the ‘puso’ and with the Breakers professional expertise on-board, will only bring good news to the Filipino basketball community in NZ.”
Amba Gary, as he is fondly called here, had a change of heart when he found out about this partnership with the Breakers. He is not a great fan of basketball because of its partisanship and divisiveness. But once he found out the real, long-term goal of this project, he was all for it.
He further said that, “we may not have the height, for now, but with the abundant fresh milk, meat and vegetables here, it will only be a matter of time when our boys and girls grow, bigger, stronger and taller.”
You can also watch the video about this on my Ekwento Mo YouTube channel.
The Pinoys’ love for basketball has brought various honors to the Philippines, among them, three players named to the 2019 ASEAN Basketball League Top 10 All-Time Players, boys and girls teams winning medals at the ASEAN School Games in Indonesia, the GoodNewsPilipinas.com Team making history as champions of the 2019 Grandeur Basketball Championship in Singapore, and the UP Fighting Maroons sweeping the 2019 BLIA Cup in Taiwan.
SEND cheers to the Kiwinoy community in New Zealand for showing how Pinoys continue to love basketball even outside the Philippines!
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