By Joe Zaldarriaga

Basketball and positive change

September 11, 2023, 9:32 am

With the end of the FIBA World Cup 2023, we are once again reminded of the impact sports, particularly basketball, has not just on the lives of athletes and fans—but on communities around the world.

Through the years, we have seen how basketball can improve lives and impact positive change in the community by promoting fitness and well-being, unity and excellence. Over the weekend, I was fortunate to be among those to witness firsthand the power of basketball to leave lasting change with the recently concluded Basketball For Good Charity Gala and Auction of the FIBA Foundation.

The event raised USD320,308 for Basketball For Good projects implemented in the FIBA World Cup 2023 host countries—the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan. Carried out at the grassroots level, the projects are geared towards addressing a variety of social issues such as gender equality, climate action and health and well-being.

Graced by NBA legends, patrons, corporations and non-government organizations, the gala night was truly a fitting reminder of how basketball can bring people together for a positive cause.

The lively bidding throughout the night reflected the basketball community's love for the game and how it can translate to a positive impact. In fact, even basketball legends Carmelo Anthony, Pao Gasol and Luis Scola actively participated in the bidding of iconic items from the FIBA Museum, proving indeed that “ball is life”.

While there were numerous iconic memorabilia put up in auction, the star of the night was a pair of antique sneakers and a laced basketball that fetched USD35,000, which translates to nearly PHP2 million.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al S. Panlilio during the gala night verbalized what many of us have been seeing throughout the entire FIBA World Cup here in Manila: basketball is a powerful catalyst for social change.

“Basketball has a unique ability to transcend borders, cultures, and backgrounds. It unites people in a way that a few other sports can while instilling values that extend far beyond the court and into our daily lives,” Mr. Panlilio said.

We’ve seen it through the entire FIBA World Cup 2023 run—in the renewed spirit of volunteerism among Filipinos, the camaraderie of players and the sportsmanship of participating countries. Truly, the FIBA gala was a fitting way to end the tournament as a reminder of the bigger role sports play in our society.

As Mr. Panlilio mentioned, one way that the legacy of the recently concluded international tournament will live on here in the Philippines is through the newly renovated community basketball court in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Pasig City. The project, undertaken with FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis, will serve as an inspiring place for young Filipinos to nurture their athleticism, passion and love for basketball in the hopes that they will grow up to bring pride to the country.

Of course this success would not have been possible without the support of SBP led by its Chairman Emeritus Manuel V. Pangilinan, its President Al S. Panlilio, our government, the numerous volunteers and all the basketball-loving Filipinos. As a Filipino, I couldn't be prouder of what we have accomplished.

It has been said before that sports, aside from its power to bring people together, offers a unique opportunity to level the playing field for many for a chance at greatness. As we move forward from the FIBA World Cup, may SBP President Panlilio’s words serve as a reminder of the bigger role sports can play in our lives: “Let us use the power of basketball to inspire and uplift, and use that power for the greater good."

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.


About the Columnist

Image of Joe Zaldarriaga

Joe Zaldarriaga is a veteran, award-winning communicator immersed in public service within and beyond the energy sector. He has more than 30 years of experience serving the country’s biggest electric distribution utility and is involved in a number of public service functions, as member of various committees on public safety, power supply security and electrification. Concurrently, he is a prominent figure in the Philippine communications industry, as Chairman and Past President of the US-based International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC PH). He is also an awardee of the University of Manila’s Medallion of Honor (Dr. Mariano V. delos Santos Memorial) and a Scroll of Commendation, a testament to his celebrated years in public service exemplified by outstanding communications.

Joe also shares his opinion and outlook on relevant national and consumer issues as a columnist in several prominent publications and is now venturing into new media via hosting a new vlog called Cup of Joe. Previously, Joe was a reporter and desk editor of a Broadcasting Company and the former auditor of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines. A true green Lasalian, he finished with a degree in Asian Studies specializing in the Japan Studies program at De La Salle University, Manila, where he also spent his entire education.