It’s as much a celebration of culture as it is a basketball league.
And since forming a little over two years ago, the Filipino Canadian Basketball League has been a slam-dunk in basketball-crazy southern Alberta.
Last month, the Filipino Canadian Basketball League wrapped up another successful season as Amigos clinched the latest league title with a 91-60 win over Edo Japan at the Fritz Sick Centre.
An official date has yet to be set on when the next season will start, but the Filipino Canadian Basketball League continues to gain popularity in Lethbridge.
“Since 2013 we’ve had it and we’ve expanded quite a bit. We can get anywhere from 10 to 14 teams and we’re hoping to expand,” said Filipino Canadian Basketball League secretary Rikki Galang.
The Filipino Canadian Basketball League was founded in February 2013 to bring Filipinos and other cultures together in Lethbridge through basketball with main goal to promote sportsmanship and friendship.
The latest season featured 10 teams and 140 athletes with roughly 14 players per team.
The league consists of nine regular-season games played every Saturday and Sunday at the Fritz Sick Centre.
This past season, there was further growth beyond the players with licensed referees calling the games, something the athletes had asked for.
“We’ve been trying to cater to our players, too,” said Galang. “For example, we didn’t have official refs when we first started and due to high requests we did our best and we got some official refs for the league.”
Antonio Caraig has been with the Filipino Canadian Basketball since its inception two-and-a-half years ago.
As a member of Amigos, he’s now a league champion to boot after Amigos capped off a 6-3 regular season with the title.
“It’s really going well,” said Caraig. “We’re growing really fast. It’s competitive and fun and (we make) friends together. For us, it’s exercise and get rid of stress and things like that.”
Now a seasoned veteran in Filipino Canadian Basketball League finals, Caraig was confident players on both sides will be suiting up when the next season begins.
“This is our second time in the final, both the teams,” he said. “We’re all going to come back for the next league.”
His team settled for the runner-up status this season, but Edo Japan team member Sean Maiquilla — a member of a few other local leagues — had high praise for the league, having moved to Lethbridge four years ago.
“I played in the Philippians on the high school team there and now I’m playing here,” said Maiquilla. “Its been improving. A lot of players have been joining the league and that’s important. A lot of players are going to be playing here. It’s going to be fun.”
Their second-place finish aside, it was a solid season for Team Edo, who went 8-1 in round-robin play.
“It’s been good year,” said Maiquilla. “I think we got beat in the first (game), but after that we went 11-0. So it’s been good.”
The latest season started in May.
“So (it runs) about three or four months,” said Galang. “It depends on how many teams we get.”
An official date for the next season has not yet been determined.
But more players are welcome to come out.
“That would be really nice if we could get more and get everyone as a community,” said Galang.
The Filipino Canadian Basketball League’s website at fcblleth.wix.com/fcbl is currently under construction, but has contact information for those looking for further league details.