It’s a known fact that basketball is the number one sport in the Philippines. Whether it be Krispa, Toyota , B-Meg or Ginebra, Filipinos have always been die hard basketball fans. It has already been one week since game 7 of the PBA finals, yet basketball fanatics are still talking about it. From superb performances of players to controversial calls by the referees, there is no doubt that the game is still the talk of the town. But how can you not talk about a game that is filled with so much passion and heart? Basketball is like a 48 minute interactive movie packed with action, drama and sometimes even comedy. One cannot help to be physically and emotionally invested to their specific teams and their favourite players. Using game 7 of the PBA finals as an example again, you can see fans making their own shirts just to support their team. Everyone would be on their feet once the critical minutes of the game start, either praying or passionately cheering on their team.
The Philippines, unlike the United States or other countries do not have teams per city. We instead have teams only from the PBA and colleges or universities. Since we do not have teams per city that we can support, we instead invest our energy on our schools’ teams. One of the biggest rivalries considered to be present in the Philippines is between La Salle and Ateneo. A game between the two schools can only be described as intense. Tickets are sold out in a span of a day and it’s the best time to be a scalper. General admission tickets that normally cost around 50 pesos would spike at 350 pesos. It’s funny how intense the games can get. And it’s even funnier how creative schools get with their cheers and insults to the opposing school. They say that once you enter one of the schools, there’s no turning back. You will forever support that team. It doesn’t even matter if you’re a sports fan, you will always know when there’s a game. Supporting your school’s team is like being a part of something big. Since we have no other teams to support, it is only natural that we invest our emotions and devotions to our school’s team. I’m sure that most of us have at least one school shirt in our closets.
The thing about basketball is that it is interactive. The fans or supporters are just as important as the players. There is a direct relationship between the two. The energy of the crowd can help make or break the performance of the team. Likewise, the performance of the team fuels the reaction and passion of the fans. A good game must have the combination of a good crowd and good players. This can be felt first hand in the Arena. Even though it was just a pre-season tournament, the energy in the arena is still evident. Fans still went there to support and to cheer their respective schools.
We went to the Fil Oil Flying V Arena in San Juan to watch one of the games featured in their Preseason tournament (named after the Arena itself). We watched the game featuring the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta Altas and the San Beda Red Lions. Since it was a preseason tournament, there were less people there compared to what you would normally expect in a UAAP game or a NCAA game. Even though there were fewer people, the energy was still pretty much present inside the Arena. The efforts and intensity can be felt from the all the players, the pep squads, and the fans.
As you enter the Arena, you could feel something different, something special. I could see the fans and the players. The crowd were arranged based on the seat or the ticket they had bought. There are three types of tickets or seats available for sale, the Ringside, Lower box, and the Upper Box seats. They are priced at P175, P100, and P20. This also separates the kind of people watching the games based on the amount they are willing to shell out to watch the game. This could also indicate a difference in social status or devotion to a specific team or school. But once the game starts, that separation is erased and the only thing that matters is what team you support. That is the main difference of college teams and professional teams. Since you studied in that college or university, you are forever linked to that school and you feel an attachment. The crowd cheers for their team along with their respective pep squads to cheer their team to victory.
The game itself was pretty lopsided. The Red Lions lead from the get go and didn’t let up. They didn’t give the Altas the opportunity to get in the game. The Lions dominated that game but the supporters of the Altas didn’t stop cheering for their team even thought the score wasn’t even close. The Atlas Pep Squad continued to urge their side to cheer and support their team. The winning team and their supporters felt very proud regarding their win and showed their unity when they sang their school’s hymn. This is the difference of college fans. Some of the fans in the Arena were older. Even if they weren’t in the school anymore, they still came out to show support for their team. This can be seen in leagues like the UAAP where alumnus are very attached and involved. This connection can be matched by a professional team in our country because it is not about the players but it is about school pride.
Like the famous team in the 80’s, the Showtime Lakers, which featured all time greats like magic johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, every incredible move made by the team electrified the crowd. The team feeds off the crowd and because of the great support from the crowd, they won numerous championships. Their fans cheered until their voice gave out, they were one of the most passionate fans in all of sports. Their status in life, professions, and social status becomes irrelevant because they are there for the same reason, to cheer on their team to victory. That can be said for the Filipinos too. They can match the passion shown by every other fan in the world. The Filipinos are very passionate about sports, especially basketball since it is our number one sport in the country. That is the main thing in sports like basketball, most of the other things are forgotten and the only thing that matters inside the Arena is the game at hand, nothing else.
Byron Go, 111760
Kris Umali, 114580