The Filipinos' love for basketball is undeniable. I personally don't know a Filipino man who doesn't watch basketball. The ones I do know are men and women who live and breathe the sport. Even my 8-year- old nephew, Matthew, is a basketball fanatic. His birthday wish was for Miami Heat to win in the NBA finals, much to my husband's dismay.
Filipinos can now revel in this love for the game at the first ever NBA Café in Asia that is set to open at our very own shores. It was recently made public by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Hoopla Inc. that come this September 2013 at SM Aura Mall in the Bonifacio Global City, the NBA Café will welcome all NBA fans.
Hoopla Inc. is the brain behind bringing this NBA mecca to Manila. Initially making a name for itself as a promoter of world-class shows and events in the Philippines in 2010, Hoopla was responsible for officially bringing the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil troupe to the Philippines. The recently succesful visit of Korean boy band sensation 2PM was also made possible by Hoopla Inc. More never-before-seen shows and events are up their sleeves. The company is currently expanding into the restaurant business with the opening of NBA Café.
“The NBA Café will be a unique destination that will bring NBA basketball closer to our fans in the Philippines,” said Carlo Singson, NBA country manager, Philippines. “Given their vast knowledge in the food and entertainment industry, Hoopla is an ideal partner to bring the NBA Café to life and to provide fans another authentic NBA experience.”
The NBA Café will feature a unique dining and entertainment experience that captures the excitement of the league through memorabilia displays, NBA highlights and programming, an NBA retail area, and will host viewing parties and appearances by NBA talent.
At the NBA Café, fans will enjoy quintessentially American bar and grill favorites and a selection of Asian-Filipino classics, giving it a local twist. It is the first sports bar and restaurant in Manila catering specifically to basketball fanatics and enthusiasts, in a nation where 40 million people play or have played basketball.
“Basketball fans in the country now have a place dedicated and designed specifically for them,” said Nian Rigor, assistant vice president of Hoopla Inc. “NBA Café will provide them a taste of the authentic NBA experience that they can share with family and friends, complete with great food, custom-made NBA Café Manila merchandise and the finest in basketball entertainment."
This is the second league-owned restaurant set to open outside the U.S.; an NBA Café also is planned for Madrid in 2013. NBA City, the league’s first themed restaurant, opened in 1999 at the Universal Studios Resort in Orlando.
NBA legend Muggsy Bogues, who was in Manila for the finale of the four-month long Jr. NBA program, made a special stop at the site, conducting a hard hat inspection with NBA executives to monitor the progress of the NBA Café.
“This is my first time in the Philippines and I’m overwhelmed by the passion the people have for basketball here,” said Bogues, who at 5’3 is the shortest player ever to play in the NBA. “More than a restaurant, the NBA Café will be a destination where fans here can watch games in an entertaining atmosphere that captures the history and excitement of the NBA.”
The NBA recently announced a comprehensive global games schedule that will include a total of eight games in six countries this October, including the first ever preseason game in the Philippines. In addition, each year the NBA conducts local events in the Philippines, including the Jr. NBA youth development program, which has reached more than 60,000 students, parents and coaches over the past five years, and NBA 3X, the league’s global basketball competition and lifestyle event which will be conducted in 14 countries outside the US this summer.
For all things NBA, you may visit www.nba.com, or follow the official local twitter feed at www.twitter.com/NBA_Philippines or like its local Facebook page at www.facebook.com/phils