The Filipinos’ love for basketball is undeniable. In practically every town in the country, you’ll find at least one basketball court.
But there are 10 basketball courts in the country that are unlike any other. It’s because these courts not only inspired athletes to become better, it also gave them the opportunity to improve their lives and that of their community.
Tagged as courts of inspiration, these courts—which are in Bacolod, Cebu, Dumaguete, Iloilo, Tacloban, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Sarangani and Zamboanga—were formerly dirt courts. Through the Filipino tradition of bayanihan, locals were able to transform them into modest concrete courts.
These same courts saw how 10 athletes trained and persevered to become the country’s next top basketball players. In the recently concluded Alaxan FR Galing Mo Camp, they were recognized for their hard work and given the opportunity to be scouted as varsity members of top Manila schools.
Before being chosen, the athletes underwent rigorous training under the tutelage of six of the country’s top basketball players—Alvin Patrimonio, Benjie Paras, Jerry Codiñera, Johnny Abarrientos, Jojo Lastimosa and Ronnie Magsanoc.
Some 900 participants joined this year’s camp, but Paras said that skills aren’t their only criterion when choosing the top 10 athletes.
“We’re after the athlete whose good at his game and at the same time possesses the right attitude and character,” Paras said.
Some may not have been as lucky to make the cut, but Abarrientos said that being cut is not a bad thing.
“I also had my experience of not making the cut,” Abarrientos said. “That experience helped me become more motivated.”
For this year, finalists in the camp came only from the Visayas and Mindanao. “It’s because we want to sustain the ‘courts of inspiration’ that we helped the communities build,” Alaxan brand manager Sheila Roño said. “Next year, there will be Luzon finalists as we build more courts in the country, especially in Luzon.”
After exhibiting exemplary skills and strength of character, Cagayan de Oro’s Rhys Jefferson Flores was named most valuable player. He won for himself P25,000. The other nine athletes were given P20,000 each. The 10 communities where the athletes came from were also given P100,000 for a community project of their liking.
“The basketball camp is part of our advocacy of turning pain into a source of pride,” Roño said. “It’s our way of promoting a culture of hard work and dedication, where pain is seen as a badge of honor.”