The 17th annual edition of the Filipino Canadian Basketball League Yukon has started with an opening ceremony on Oct. 21 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Secondary School.
The league will run until next spring and games are played Saturdays and Sundays. A total of 18 teams are participating in this year’s league, with 10 teams in the open division and eight teams in the 35 and above category.
Triniti Dental/JPR Cleaning played Cornerstone Construction in the open division category on Oct. 21 with Triniti winning with a final score of 103-101. Team Silver later defeated Northern Gateway Immigration 68-39. And in a game between Air North and Big Bear Donair, Air North won 104-80.
In the 35 and above division, Home Hardware beat Chef Angelo 81-69. Team Domino’s defeated Northwestel 85-64, while Team Pillai defeated Whitehorse Toyota 54-47.
The tournament is organized by the Filipino Canadian Basketball League Yukon. Joesel Rumbaoa, a board member of the league and one of the organizers of the opening tournament, said the league is expecting a great season.
“This is an opportunity for the development of young athletes,” he said.
Rumbaoa noted there are a lot of new players from the Philippines who will be playing in the league. He said the players from the Philippines are currently permanent residents of Canada, including old ones who are Canadian already citizens.
“We hope we can make it to the finals again for the third time,” he said of the Triniti Dental/JPR Cleaning Services which represented the Filipino association in the league. “But we need to play hard for it.”
Rumbaoa said the league will feature a great selection of players, including athletes who will be participating in the 2024 Arctic Winter Games.
Filipino Canadian Association in the Yukon president Aurora Viernes told the News the league has grown from just two teams in 2006 to 18 teams in 2023.
“The tournament has a significant impact on the Filipino community in the Yukon,” she said. “Basketball is one of the favorite sports in the Philippines, so coming together here and having fun is really amazing.”
Viernes said most of the teams are very competitive, noting she expects camaraderie and unity among teams and players.
“Unity is the theme for the season. There is an impact in being united, especially as the team is growing. It’s nice to see everyone gathering together. It’s more like a family getting together as you can see all the families and friends are here. It’s nice to see everyone having a good time,” she said.
Mayor Laura Cabott, who attended the opening ceremony, said the City of Whitehorse supports the tournament which she described as fun and super entertaining.
“It’s one of the most successful sports associations in the City of Whitehorse. It has a big support from a broad section of the community,” she said. “It’s a great community builder, it’s fun and brings a large section of the community together which the Filipino community does all the time whether it’s an evening event, food, culture, sports, they are very inclusive and welcoming.”
Education Minister Jeanie McLean said basketball is such a great sport and good for everyone.
“It’s really great to see the association put the support behind basketball in the way that they do and bringing their community together,” she said. “I believe in sports, especially ones that are easy for youth to participate in, and basketball is one of them. We know it contributes to the overall well-being and keeps our youth busy and not get involved in [something] that is harmful to them.”
She added the emphasis that the Filipino community gives around supporting young people is encouraging.
Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon said it’s really exciting to see the success the sport has had in the territory.
“I grew up playing basketball in this community and we never had the kind of attention and crowd like they do now,” he said. “I think the Filipino basketball association has reinvigorated the sport in this community and the Filipino community in particular is such a huge asset to the sport community overall.”
When asked his expectation on the tournament, Dixon, whose team “Team Currie” is participating in the league, said he is obviously hoping that his team is successful but that he wants all the players to have a good season and try hard to do their best to compete.
“I hope Team Currie comes on top and I wish them all the best,” he said.
Contact Patrick Egwu at email@example.com