25 August, 2023
10 September

History of Philippines basketball

Top 3 moments in Philippine basketball
  • 1. Fifth place in the 1936 Olympics in Germany

    Basketball made its debut as a medal sport in the Olympics back in 1936. The Philippines was one of the teams that participated in the sport’s inaugural run in the Olympics. The team nicknamed “The Islanders” immediately made their mark in the tournament.

    Led by collegiate star Charlie Borck and team captain Ambrosio Padilla, The Islanders won their first two matches against Mexico and Estonia to advance to the quarterfinal round. They lost to the gold medalist of the tournament, Team USA, and fell to the classification phase. They closed out the tournament with wins over Italy and Uruguay to claim fifth place. That finish by the Philippines is still the best standing by an Asian team in Olympic basketball.

    2. Winning bronze in the 1954 World Cup in Brazil

    The Philippines has won several medals in different Asian tournaments but its biggest accomplishment on the world stage up to this day is its bronze medal finish in the 1954 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Led by former Olympians Lauro Mumar and Caloy Loyzaga, the Philippines finished the tournament with six wins in nine games. Their only losses of the tournament came at the hands of eventual gold medalist Team USA and silver medalist Brazil.

    Loyzaga showcased just how good Filipinos were during that tournament. He finished third in scoring, averaging 16.4 points per game, and was named to the All-tournament Team. To this day, no other Asian team has finished higher in the World Cup than the third-place ranking that the 1954 Philippine team achieved.

    3. Return to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014 in Spain

    After missing out on the last eight FIBA Basketball World Cup events, the Philippines finally made a return to the world stage in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014. Known as Gilas Pilipinas, the national team was able to get back to the grandest stage of basketball by finishing second in the 2013 FIBA Asia Cup.

    Gilas Pilipinas showed the whole world what Filipino basketball was all about. In the group stage of that tournament, the Philippines pushed their higher-ranked opponents Croatia, Greece, Argentina, and Puerto Rico to the limit in the first four games. They ended the tournament with a monumental win against Senegal, their first win on the world stage in 40 years.

  • Carlos Loyzaga

    No one has significantly impacted Philippine basketball more than Carlos "Caloy" Loyzaga. A two-time Olympian, he placed the country on the world map by leading the national team to multiple gold medals in the Asian Games and FIBA Asia Cups. His most outstanding achievement was spearheading the Philippines to a bronze finish in the 1954 FIBA Basketball World Cup where he was also selected to the All-Star Five of the tournament. Nicknamed "The Big Difference", he is revered for helping the Philippines become a dominant basketball force in the region.

    Robert Jaworski, Sr


    If there was one player who fully captures the essence and passion of Philippine basketball, it’s Robert "Sonny" Jaworksi. The fiery court general embodied the “Never Say Die” mantra of the teams he played on throughout his 23 seasons in the Philippine Basketball Association. Known as “The Big J” and “The Living Legend”, he was the face of Philippine basketball for nearly three decades both as a charismatic player and playing coach. Not only was he one of the best to ever play, but he is also one of the most popular Filipino players of all time. 

    June Mar Fajardo

    June Mar Fajardo symbolizes where Philippine basketball is today. The big-bodied center has dominated the PBA for the last decade and became the first player in the league to win six straight Most Valuable Player awards. He was the centerpiece in nine PBA championships and was named Finals MVP four times. Known as "The Kraken", he has become a mainstay in the national team program. He was part of the Gilas Pilipinas squad that qualified for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain and the 2019 edition in China.