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Tyler Tio, Chris Newsome got new hobbies

The passion for the game transcends from the hardcourt and into collectibles through card collecting and NBA Topshot. Many Filipinos and athletes have turned to these avenues to channel their love for the game and this is only the beginning of this booming industry.

Basketball culture in the Philippines has seen a transition with the rise of collectibles in a pandemic. Many Filipinos have turned to card collecting and NBA Top Shot these days being two years removed from playing on the hardcourt. The rise of these hobbies has seen many people form a community out of these collections, interact with new fans online, and even turn in a profit through buying & selling. The potential for collectibles has never been brighter than today, especially as basketball junkies now have two legitimate ways to get into the community in trading cards or NBA Top Shot.

The Boom of the Local Card Trading Scene

Many people have attributed NBA card collections similar to Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon decks. Panini and Upper Deck have dominated the industry, however, many creators and manufacturers have created more interest to bring back this hobby. Many fans start their collecting journey merely for fun then end up seeing the business side of it. The stars aligned for the card-collecting community to get bigger as many Filipinos are stuck at home, having more time in their hands, and people finding new ways to make money.

“I got into card collecting last year during the NBA bubble when my friends were really encouraging me to try it. I started off buying a Luka Doncic PRIZM RC then soon after came collecting a bunch of singles and now providing boxes of cards,” said Ateneo guard Tyler Tio.

The support for the basketball card community in the Philippines caught the attention of more athletes, particularly Ateneo star guard Tyler Tio. Similar to many Filipinos, a childhood hobby instantly became the trend as the NBA restarted last August which encouraged him to get into the scene. The numerous communities for card trading then pulled him more into engaging with fellow fans of the game. Enjoying basketball not only came from watching teams on screen but also the thrill of trying to bag a LaMelo Ball or Ja Morant card. The excitement of card-collecting comes with the suspense of possibly packing your favorite player, finding a rare card, and even making money on your hobby.

The options are limitless in getting into the card space with buying singles, packs, and even slots for “box breaks” if one wants to save on costs. The newfound niche has even created interest in the Filipino community with box breaks, card auctions, and box suppliers becoming a thing online. With vintage cards like rookie LeBron James or Kobe Bryant selling in the millions, people have even found a way to “mint” or seal their cards so they don’t lose their value over time.

“It really just boils down to really loving the hobby. Card collecting has really been something I enjoy and some people are blessed to make a living out of this. For beginners, my biggest tip is just to enjoy the community and know what you are getting into. At the end of the day, if you love the hobby, the hobby loves you back,” said Tio.

The Rise of “#NBATopShot This”

You may have seen these lines recently on Twitter whenever a player would make a

highlight-worthy play. If card-collecting was not enough, the league has given more opportunities for fans to now own “moments” or highlights in a game through NBA Top Shot. The platform is created by Dapper Labs and is run through a blockchain platform to ensure the authenticity and transparency of its website. These “moments” are then called NFTs or Non-Fungible Tokens, which are their own unique digital token that can be bought and sold at any time.

NBA Top Shot has been in its beta testing stage since last year, but $230 million has already been spent on the platform since February this year. These “moments” all have their unique serial number and rarity which determines the value of a certain NFT. Collectors may also open packs and trade “moments” with fellow members which are in line with the essence of card-collecting as well.

The excitement that this new platform brings is what enticed Meralco Bolts guard Chris

Newsome to get into the craze.

“It was important to stay ahead of the game. NBA Top Shot basically aligns both my interest in playing basketball while also being involved in cryptocurrency. It is so cool to be able to interact with people on the other side of the world and the community is amazing for this new product,” said Newsome.

The hype surrounding NBA Top Shot has reached the Philippines too by being the few countries that have a country-manager to manage the community. The NBA Top Shot Philippines Facebook group has even swelled to 3,800 members as of the time of this writing. Many collectors have seen this as an opportunity to collect cards if they do not want to handle the shipping costs, time delays, and liquidity of traditional cards. On the flip side, this platform is still new hence prices tend to be very volatile. Philippine collectors need to stay up for “pack drops,” and long queues if ever they need to turn their profit from NBA Topshot into currency.

To be able to own a portion of history through a player’s card and value makes fans love the card-collecting industry even more. There is definitely sentimental value whether you choose to collect cards by hand or virtually. Collectors tend to watch a player more closely if they own their card or “moment” as an investment or a hobby. Many buy talented rookies or sophomores that could soon improve over the next few seasons or surefire Hall-of-Famers that are still playing.

Their improving play through time or cementing their legacy assures the value of the player’s cards increased, respectively.

“In buying or selling players, you can always just buy your favorite teams or players and hold them for fun. Cryptocurrency is definitely very volatile and going long-term is the best way to go especially for beginners. Prices go up and down very quickly here and it’s important to study the market first before purchasing your first ‘moment,’” said Newsome.

Whether one prefers to collect NBA cards online or in-person, the card market is just getting started in the Philippines. One can collect trading cards for fun or treat it like a small business like what many fans do these days. Cards are volatile. However, the excitement from getting packs, meeting new people, and seeing the value of your card rise over time is what attracts more people into the community over time.

Not only do fans support teams and players on the court, but also through collecting and trading. We are still in the early stages of NBA collectibles and it will be interesting what the landscape will look like when things go back to normal.