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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Philippine basketball culture shines in ‘Hoop Nation’

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CNN Philippines tells yet another story that delves deeply into the lives of the Filipino: basketball. The Philippines is a basketball country, where the sport means more than just recreation. For Filipinos, basketball influences communities and culture, and each citizen has a remarkable basketball story to tell. From sidewalk athletes to prisoners, from people with disabilities to shoe enthusiasts, every Filipino, regardless of region, status or place in society, considers basketball an inherent part of life.

One man was set to discover the multifaceted, phenomenal Philippine basketball culture. Six years ago, Rafe Bartholomew, a former editor and an author from the United States published his book Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin’ in Flip-Flops and the Philippines’ Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball, an in-depth look on Pinoy ball. He returns to the Philippines with the same gusto for the subject as he hosts Hoop Nation, CNN Philippines’ newest documentary series.

 "Hoop Nation," CNN Philippines' newest documentary series about the country's love affair with basketball

Watch Rafe in Hoop Nation as he goes around the Philippines, immersing in the country’s colorful basketball culture. In the program, Rafe explores the streets of Tondo, playing with sidewalk athletes in makeshift basketball courts, uncovers the spirit of basketball players with physical disabilities, profiles the most prolific characters in professional basketball, and goes behind the court to discover the secrets of the most iconic basketball teams.

Rafe reflects on how deeply entrenched basketball is into Filipino living: “Every episode of Hoop Nation delves into some aspect of Philippine basketball, from the grassroots level all the way up to the PBA and UAAP.  That’s one of the most amazing things about using basketball as a way to learn about people’s lives here in the Philippines—the sport connects so many people that their stories become almost universally relatable. It’s not about basketball, it’s about humanity.”

American author Rafe Bartholomew 

Catch Hoop Nation every Saturday, 7 p.m. on CNN Philippines Free TV Channel 9. Catch the CNN Philippines livestream on

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