The Philippine Basketball Association of Winnipeg (PBA) showed off an impressive lineup of teams during a weekend of play at Garden City Collegiate.
The PBA held opening ceremonies for the juvenile, men’s and senior’s divisions of theleague Jan. 26, while some of its younger leagues began playing around November last year.
The opening ceremonies also kicked off a weekend of play among both youth and adult divisions in the league. The league promotes a spirit of cultural awareness and good sportsmanship among its stated goals.
PBA president Manny Aranez told The Times the league usually runs from October or November until the spring, around March or April. Originally starting out with seven teams 12 years ago, the league boasted a lineup of 47 teams during its opening ceremony weekend.
"It’s grown very big," Aranez said of the league, noting it is entirely volunteer-run.
The opening ceremonies were kicked off by a rousing performance of the national anthem by Winnipeg’s own singing sensation Maria Aragon, followed by speeches by several dignitaries, including Point Douglas and Old Kildonan councillors Mike Pagtakhan and Devi Sharma, Seven Oaks School Division trustee Derek Dabee, and Aranez.
"Thank you all for taking the time to be with us, and witness these players, who are very productive in the community, and very good citizens in our community," Aranez said.
Dabee congratulated the league’s volunteers and community members who "love this game and make this happen."
"Manitoba basketball is much richer, more vibrant with the PBA," he said.
Pagtakhan lauded Aranez’s achievments in getting the league started.
"Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada has proven year after year that we have the talent and the skills to take home the gold, and place in the top three, anywhere in Canada and anywhere in North America," Pagtakhan said.
Sharma noted her own history with the game, saying she was a strong point guard in high school, and expressed astonishment at the league’s rapid growth.
"In this division you’re hosting 47 teams. That’s a lot of youth, men and women who are staying active, developing teamwork, unity and sportsmanship," Sharma said.
At the end of its season, the competitive league sends its elite to compete in the Filipino Basketball Association of North America.