Filipinos tops in NBA armchair sportscasting over Twitter

Suddenly it all makes sense to me. Sorry I’m kinda slow when it comes to sports trivia. So Erik Spoelstra, coach of the NBA team Miami Heat is a Filipino-American.

Kaya pala.

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According to a Philippine Star report, Filipinos have been so enthralled by the NBA finals in which Heat is up against Oklahoma City Thunder that the Philippines — a country of 100 million — made it up there ranking third after the United States (pop. 310 million) and China (pop. 1.3 billion) in terms of volume of NBA-related tweets fielded.

Considering the country’s smaller population compared to the US and China, it means on a per-capita basis, Filipinos’ contribution to online chatter related to the NBA dwarfed all the rest. Based on these figures, each Filipino on the average tweeted three times the number of the US’s and thirteen times the number of China’s armchair Twitter sportscasters.

Filipinos have certainly been busy lately.

“They root for us,” Spoelstra said. “When we’re over there during the summer, they are. It’s great to see. I had my family over here last night from the Philippines. The one thing about the Philippines is they are rabid basketball fanatics, and it’s been that way for a while. They’ve been following us now for the last couple years, as well.”

Rabid indeed. The tall man’s game is ingrained in the psyche of a nation of short people. There is a consequence, of course, to this bizarre fixation…

In stark contrast to the meritocratic nature of soccer which does not care much about being born with the genes for height, the fixation that Filipinos have for basketball creates so many shattered dreams. Millions of young Filipinos are raised to love a sport that does not love them back. Many waste inordinate amounts of time practicing the game, wishing that they would be just like Kobe Bryant when they grow up, only to grow to their full height which might be just a few inches taller than Diego Maradona — a height that is just not cut for competitive basketball.

Filipinos even love to watch the NBA play-offs, but even if the Philippines is perhaps the most basketball-crazy country in the World (Americans are more obsessed with American Football and Baseball), countries with much more diversified sporting interests such as Mainland China and the former Yugoslav republics of Serbia, Croatia, etc, who all watch more soccer than they do basketball, have successfully sent players to the NBA. The Philippines has never sent a Filipino to the NBA!

Just the same, I’m not sure if it is because I have only this year been most aware of Twitter goings on, or because the winning coach of this year’s finals is of Filipino descent. But, really, tweeting while watching a sport as fast-paced as basketball — where sometimes even blinking just a millisecond too long could mean missing the turning point of a game? Oh well…

20 Replies to “Filipinos tops in NBA armchair sportscasting over Twitter”

  1. It’s just sad that everyone is so fixated on basketball that they can’t see the potential of our country to excel in other sports.

    I used to play varsity basketball in highschool and baseball in college. I enjoyed baseball a lot more than I did basketball and it saddens me that the attention given to other sports where we could potentially dominate internationally is almost non existent.

    We have come home with gold in fencing, baseball, archery, rifle and pistol shooting, swimming, track and field… the list goes on and yet there is nothing.

    Our rallying behind the Azkals is more of a showbiz phenomenon and after Manny retires, what’s going to happen?

    Nothing. Because there is no development at the grass roots level and no opportunities at the higher levels except for Basketball, where we can’t even qualify for the Olympics.

  2. NBA Finals is the only annual championship that pinoys will tune in to.

    I don’t think people should be like me but just to care about one team sport when there are many others.

    I wrote this on the irrelevance of the World Cup here and shortly thereafter the Azkals fad hit

    I wrote this on the pinoy tunnel vision with basketball and how it explained the culture.

    1. Who cares? It would be great if Filipinos become rabid about football as they are to basketball. But why football? Why not Chess? Filipinos love basketball that’s why they only watch basketball. Just like other countries do not care about the NBA finals compared to the World Cup, I bet bball fans in those countries wished it was the opposite. Everybody has their own preference, it would be great if Filipinos started loving other sports too, but you make it sound as if its a bad thing to be crazy about basketball and not football. If we wanted to excel we should just look for sports we have the highest chance of winning in. Maybe sepak takraw? Arnis? I bet Filipino football fans would love that.

  3. Outside the scope of this blog:
    The name Spoelstra sounds very Dutch. Easy to pronounce by me. It would be a typical name for someone coming from the province of “Friesland”, or “Groningen” or maybe “Drenthe”. Erik is maybe a more international first name but also his first name (Erik or Eric) is very common here in the Netherlands.

    1. Actually I find your comment very relevant. Just like I made the point in GRP that Jessica Sanchez is not culturally pinoy , not born here and her dad is Mexican I don’t understand the rush to claim her as one of our own. Erik I think visits his mom here in the off season so there is some tie. Also the guy really did work his way up from the bottom and it’s a good story.

  4. Another sports blog that bash most Filipino’s penchant for basketball instead of football or any other sports other than basketball (and boxing, for that matter)? Not trolling, but geez, every person has his or her own preference, right? Its just that most Filipinos like basketball more than any other sports. What’s wrong with that? So what if we can’t produce an NBA-type home-grown player?Does it mean that if we can’t send a home-grown player for UEFA, we don’t watch it anymore? From the last time I checked, we can still pretty much choose our personal preferences. And the PStar article is just plain trash, thinking that the reason PHL is third in following the NBA in FB or Twitter is because Spoelstra is of Filipino descent. I think it is just Philippine media making news again out of nothing. There wasn’t even a mention of that at And if there was, who cares, really? 😉

    1. Lol! If you hadn’t noticed, you actually highlighted the very precise point I was trying to make in that article. With the freedoms and options afforded the 21st Century Filipino, the nature of those preferences they choose to exercise are a clear reflection of the substance they apply in exercising said choice. 😀

      1. I agree that we Filipinos do have a lot of choices, specially in the 21st century. But I think that doesn’t mean that if you have established a single preference, you are shallow or something. People will definitely end up with one preferable choice. Probably because its easier to understand or familiarity or whatever. Just ask the Apple or the Android fanbois. I mean, some would prefer Windows over Ubuntu and vice versa, and that is their choice and their rights, much like most Filipinos prefer basketball over any other sports. And I think I do understand my choice to follow basketball over any other sports (I don’t want to speak for the entire Filipino race), much as I understand my personal preferences over other things. Besides, I’m not into this basketball vs football or this iOS vs Android vs WP8 thing, it’s a bit childish, don’t ya think? I’d rather just sit back and enjoy the game, anyway it’s free to watch (I still have to pay my monthly Internet subscription fee though). Cheers!

      2. @tonybac: That’s the power of brands. It is a field that seeks to exploit a key weakness in the human condition — our predisposition to fall into habit.

        Once stuck in a habit (which may be physical, psychological, or intellectual in nature), it is difficult to break, even when new information comes to light that points to options that make logical sense to pursue.

        It is quite common knowledge that brand loyalty is largely irrational and not too different from other emotional crutches. Our minds are evolved to establish order in its internal model of the world and habits are one such way that it conserves cognitive bandwidth (thinking is a resource-intensive physiological activity). This biological strategy made sense back in the days where there was a constant uncertainty around where the next source of energy (i.e. food) will be obtained.

        In the 21st Century however, that excuse for lazy thinking is no longer present.

        1. But, if that is what we should do in the 21st century, wouldn’t that make us “jack of all trades, master of none.” Its like you know how to use any Android device out there, yet you can’t still root nor mod your Galaxy S3. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not against having more preferences, thereby acquiring more knowledge, skills, talent and understanding, but in these tough times, where just about anyone can be good at anything, being an expert on something would certainly make you a top priority, I guess? Anyway, I think I’m already far-off from what your blog was all about (Filipinos and basketball). Thanks for the discussion though. Cheers!

  5. Why do we fantasize on things we will never excel and get. Ours is a team where we can’t even win against our neighbors. Being ecstatic in watching our local heroes play against each other for the whole year is kinda incestuous to say the least. Sa bagay, even in the diplomatic scene we had lofty goals that we could beat China thru bullying or “takutan”. but when they engaged us on a stare down we turned around and ran as fast as we can before we could even finish saying the name of Noynoy. Could we ever win a basketball game against those nations at the other side of the henisphere? Could we ever win a war against China?

  6. We are the only nation in Earth where basketball is the only place where our top homegrown athletes go. We can’t even dominate South East Asian region where builds are similar to ours. And their best guys go to soccer. I have theory in that and it’s in my personal blog.

      1. I believe that you should be involved in something out of love for that thing. Where the typical pinoy trips up is what happened last year when a lot of them believed some PR fairy tale that MVP was going to buy the Sacramento Kings. Many of them bragged in Facebook about pinoy coaches and players in the NBA not because of achievement but because of a sugar daddy. Many people believe just because we have a basketball league means that the only thing keeping pinoys out of the NBA is racism.

        My thoughts on Pangalinan’s cry for attention is here.

        Enjoying basketball on it’s own but not being world class is totally fine. Enjoy the sport. When other people project false pride and entitlement and in MVP’s case cheap publicity that is when it’s sad.

  7. The NBA season officially ended yesterday. So pinoys will ignore all team sports not played locally until November. Happens every year. Not saying it’s good or bad just that they are so intense over the NBA and that’s it. Yes I know it’s also an Olympic year.

  8. Well, we are ranked higher in basketball in the world than in football. Just because there’s no height requirement doesnt mean it is easier to excel in it. But that’s besides the point, people play sports for the love of the sport not because they have a better chance of winning in it. If that’s the case let’s pick the sport where there is less competition and where we stand a greater chance of winning. And that’s not football. That’s what China did in the 2008 Olympics, they trained athletes for obscure sports where they had the highest probability of winning which is ironic, because sports is more than just winning. Yung mga naasar sa basketball, not all, pansin ko lang mga pa-iba lang sila. Mga pretentious football fans. Why hate on basketball because they love another sport. I agree other sports dont get the support but that’s because Filipinos love basketball and yeah our sports commissions are corrupt.

  9. Also, I get what the author says about “Pinoy Pride” being annoying and embarassing, but when it comes to basketball, Filipinos don’t really care if there’s a Filipino coaching/playing in the NBA. I’m sure the surge in traffic was also in part due to a Fil-Am coaching in the NBA finals. However, what the author doesnt get is Filipios follow the NBA because they love basketball regardless of whether a Filipino is playing or coaching in it. So you should instead commend Filipinos for being rabid about the NBA, which is how you wanted Filipinos to behave in the first place: To love something for its own sake not because it is Filipino.

  10. And another thing, tweeting while watching is fun. It’s like interacting with a worldwide barkada. The author should try logging on DDL or Daily Dime on espn during NBA playoff games. It is a lot of fun.

  11. Also, I believe the Filipino’s love for basketball is a special thing. It goes all the way back to the 1940s. And it took a foreigner to point that out in Raef Bartholomew’s book “Pacific Rims”.
    While the US has American football, baseball and basketball. India and Pakistan has cricket, and the rest of the world has football. Filipinos have basketball. That’s something we should really be proud of even if we are too short to excel in it.
    I remember this piece in Time magazine or Newsweek, I forget, about this small country that was as rabid about football as Filipinos are about basketball. They always ranked low in the world standings and were usually overmatched because they couldnt find enough talents because of their small population. They were the favorite whipping boys of that region. Their players were part-time players –they had regular jobs– but played for the national team during their off days. But the country still took pride in their team and a few years ago they did a little better in some tournament and they beat one of the best teams or just tied them. That was a great moment for that country considering their football history and their circumstances. So you see, it’s not about winning, it’s really about passion for something you love. Which is what’s sports is all about.

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