Neepawa Filipino Basketball League gaining momentum


By: Lanny Stewart

What started as a six-team venture in 2010, the Neepawa Filipino Basketball League has grown exponentially since its inception and is now a league worthy of recognition.

Now into its fourth season, the organized adult sports league is now up to 22 teams in total with more than 300 players taking part. It is widely considered one of the largest sports leagues in Neepawa's history.

Co-chair Ron Santos says in the league's infancy stages, it was mainly a way for Filipino people to come together to ease boredom and homesickness in the Neepawa area.

"It also helped maintain our camaraderie through sports," he added.

After an increase in participation numbers in 2011 which saw 10 teams involved in the league and 12 clubs in 2012, the NFBL opted to have two divisions in 2013 to handle all 16 clubs as well as a six-team 'D' league which accommodates its older players.

Anyone interested can join the NFBL, which consists of 14 Neepawa-based squads in the 16-team higher tier league. The majority of the Neepawa squads consist of Filipino-based rosters.

The league has also recently expanded outside of the Neepawa area, including teams from Portage and Hamiota.

"Basketball is to the Philippines what hockey is for Canada," said Santos. 

"Our aim is [that] we want everyone to stay active," he continued.

The Huskies won the 2010 and 2012 league title, while FilCan wound up winning the 2012 championship.

The league season began in October and runs until March. Games are held at the Neepawa Collegiate gym every Saturday (six games in total) and Sunday (five games). Action gets underway at 10:00 a.m. and doesn't wrap up until 7:00 p.m.

Photo: Game action between Waray and the Canada Patriots.

Photo submitted