Sunday, March 3, 2013


It was Filipino Night at the Verizon Center last Friday (March 1). The NBA's Washington Wizards and New York Knicks clashed on center court they shared with Filipino talents.

It was the first of its kind for an NBA game in the East Coast, explained Ken Mendoza, president of the Filipino-American Basketball Association of Metro DC (FABA-DC). But he added he got the idea from Fil-Am basketball groups in the West Coast that have been doing it yearly.

The Filipino Heritage Night was a collaboration between the Wizards franchise and FABA-DC. 

FABA-DC is one of only 5 “youth basketball partners” of the Washington Wizards and Mystics. The other organizations are the Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Germantown Hardknocks Youth Foundation, I-270 Hoops and the Mercer Lunsford Basketball League.

He said they had to turn away hundreds of Fil-Am hoops fans after selling the 500 tickets allotted to them because the tickets for the game were sold out. The Verizon Center seats over 20,000.

The US national anthem was sung by 13-year-old Fil-Am Kriskatlin Zabala of WoodbridgeVa. She is the daughter of Kababayan Inc.’s Alfredo Zabala of Bataan and Catalina Zabala of Manila.

The audience also got to see the popular Filipino folk dance “tinikling” performed by the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) Dance Ensemble during the half-time break.
The MHC dance ensemble is composed of Jolin and Kathleen Calaro, Matthew Aninzo, Joyce and Khrisna Mata, Alex and John-John Cabrera, Lex Crisostomo, Ian Tamayo, Neng Poliquit and Julie Quitoriano.

Before the Wizards-Knicks game, various FABA-DC youth and adult teams played on the court.

The Filipino Heritage Night was a smashing success all around. It brought to a larger audience the talent and culture of the burgeoning Fil-Am community in the Metro DC region. The small army of young Fil-Ams playing hoops was also a reminder of one of America's enduring legacies in the Philippines - a nation addicted to basketball.

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