Asia Minute: Pro Basketball Coming Back to the Philippines

Sep 25, 2020

It’s been another week of serious news. From COVID-19 to national politics, there’s been a lot to keep up with in recent days. But there’s a big headline in the Philippines that’s a little less serious, and something that you may have missed.

Daily news in the Philippines has certain similarities to news in the United States these days. There’s coronavirus, domestic politics focused on a volatile president, and now there’s another topic entirely.

Professional basketball.

After more than six months of shutdown, professional basketball is coming back to the Philippines. Specifically, it’s the tournament for the Philippine Cup — a competition that was halted in March after just one game.

The teams playing for the cup can only include Filipinos — no foreign players. 

The games will resume next month—and the season will continue through the middle of December.

The league is taking an approach similar to that of the National Basketball Association: the games will take place in a “bubble” — a single location for scrimmages and then games – and players will stay in hotels in the same general complex – a bus ride away.

Quarantine will be five days — shorter than in the United States. And players will be tested every five days. In the NBA, tests are given every other day.

Basketball is huge in the Philippines. It was the first country outside the United States to support a professional league, and the Philippine Star reports it is Nike’s third largest basketball market in the world — trailing only the United States and China.