2017 was a memorable year in the basketball world.
There were moments of dominance like the Beermen’s growing dynasty or the San Beda’s continued reign over the NCAA. There were redemption stories like Ateneo reclaiming the UAAP from La Salle crown or the Golden State Warriors erasing their 3-1 curse from last year with a chip this year. There were teams and players that emerged from out of nowhere. The Lyceum Pirates not only won games but they changed lives while Alvin Pasaol scored 49 points, cementing his cult legend status.
The basketball played on court wasn’t too bad as well. Russ averaged a triple-double, Ben Mbala wrecked rims, and Ginebra set attendance records in the Governor’s Cup Finals.
To close out a great year, the SLAM PH team recalls their favorite moments in 2017 and their basketball wishes for the new year.
While in an athletic store in the mall trying to scour something amidst the holiday rush, I unwittingly witnessed a conversation between a father and his son while the two were trying to canvass a pair of basketball shoes.
The exchange didn’t last more than a few seconds but from my point of view, the mere gestures between parent and child were enough to understand the message.
Son (while holding a signature model of a famous shoe brand): “Pa, puwede ho ba ito?”
Father: (takes the shoe, analyzes then looks at the price tag):”Hmmmm….”
And just as the father tilted his head sidewards with son nodding in response, the shoe was returned to its display case and the two slowly trooped out of the store. No size requested, no fitting done and no purchase made. It doesn’t mean that the dad can’t afford to buy the sneaker. It just appears that the shoe is not a priority as of that moment. It’s more of a want rather a need.
That small incident somehow recalled me back to several years ago, back to the time wherein some of my childhood friends would borrow a pair of shoes to ball in, be it for village summer league play, intramurals or even PE classes since their own sneakers are dilapidated already and are not in the best condition to play with.
Just like the father and son pair, their families have their own respective priorities in budgeting their finances, with basketball shoes apparently not part of the list.
And these are not isolated cases. In reference to official statistics, figures show that the average monthly income of a Filipino family of five is pegged at only P22,000.00 per. From this amount, majority is being spent on food and other basic amenities such as health and education as well as for electricity and rent. In comparison, the average price of a signature basketball sneaker nowadays ranges from P5k to 8k. From this detail alone, it can be surmised that the average Filipino family would rather funnel their income towards addressing their basic needs than buying items that are already considered as luxurious which may very well include the various top of the line sports gear.
With that mind, it is my sincerest wish for the incoming year that the top athletic brands each provide a budget line that is within the reach of the average Filipino.
While there are existing sporting brands in the market outside of the so-called Big 3 athletic apparel companies which are Nike, adidas and Under Armour, the pricing of their apparel and sneakers are almost the same as that of the aforementioned brands, give or take a couple of hundred pesos. Likewise, there is also a local company that makes and sells athletic gear. But the technology used, or lack thereof, is evident in their clothing and shoes, which are quite chunky and heavy with quality in question as well.
Oh, and there are also Class A replicas or OEMs of various signature models that have gained popularity because of their resemblance to the original thing. Image-wise, yes. But these are miles away from their legit counterparts insofar as performance is concerned. And there’s also this legal matter of copyright infringement as well.
If memory serves me right, I do remember the swoosh releasing a short-lived budget shoe during the early years of the millennium. Simply labeled as the “Play Series”, there are three different versions of the sneaker made for basketball, football and running. Composed of a canvas upper and rubber sole similar to Converse’s Chuck Taylor line, the shoes were aesthetically simple but durable enough to be used both for play and casual wear.
While I cannot remember the exact price of the sneaker, it was much relatively cheaper than the average basketball shoe which retails at around P3-5k during that time.
So if a major athletic brand was able to do that before, then there is a great possibility that it can be done again in this day and age. The country may have experienced an uptick in its economy for the past several years but the reality is that it is hardly felt to those in the bottom tier of society. Aside from having a measly family income, 26.3% of the Filipino population is still mired in poverty with most living in informal communities and housing projects such as tenements.
As such, life in these types of societies normally don’t center around hobnobbing in clubhouses or lounging in front of the TV while surfing the web all day. In contrast, sports is the main catalyst in these parts in galvanizing the community. Be it in a inter-barangay game or an afternoon pick-up one, expect crowds to flock the community court on any given day as long as there is a game being played.
By providing an affordable athletic line, it will greatly assist the basketball players in these parts, especially the young ones, in further honing their game and craft as they won’t have to worry anymore about getting burned by the midday sun nor get blisters on their feet by having the appropriate kit and sneakers to play in the hot ashphalt.
While it appears that this may be the only benefit to this cause, accessibility to a low-cost but top-quality athletic gear and shoes will also enable a young Filipino basketball player and his family to further flex their purchasing power towards additional items that can greatly contribute to the well-being of the said individual. This may include availing of supplements such as vitamins and minerals and being able to participate in various training camps and sporting activities outside of school such as the Palarong Pambansa because of the money saved.
It is a known fact that some of the country’s pro ballplayers have emerged from the poorest districts in the land. Paul Lee, Roi Sumang and Bong Alvarez are some of those who polished their games in the streets that paved the way for their respective basketball careers.
It is imminent that there will be more generations of players coming from the same situation. By giving them access to avail modern basketball gear without sacrificing too much from their parents’ pockets, not only will it enable them to feel comfort each time they play but also assist them to further sharpened their craft towards a probable career in the sport going forward.
Photos from Nike Philippines
READ: 2017 Basketball Wrap-up