Filipino Canadian basketball players shine in first Filipino heritage night

Burnaby, B.C.

SFU coach seeks to inspire younger Filipinos by featuring players

By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez

The first Filipino Heritage Night held at the Simon Fraser University gym in Burnaby, BC was highlighted by a basketball game where the school’s strongest Filipino-Canadian players showed off their skills amid deafening cheers of fellow kababayans.

SFU basketball coach Steve Hanson, who wore a Barong Tagalog along with all the SFU coaches, knew it would draw the crowd if the SFU Red Leafs played with the Western Oregon Wolves.

“The local Burnaby basketball community has a lot of strong Filipino players so we knew it would be a success,” Hanson told ABS-CBN News in an interview.

Hanson was thankful for the show of support Thursday night despite the team’s loss, 75-73, to the visiting Western Oregon players.

“The crowd tonight was outstanding,” he said in an report. “I got to witness the passion of the fans live and up close in the Philippines after my son, AJ, left SFU. He played at National U, and the first game I went to had about 14,000 fans. When he left there, he was playing at the Mall of Asia Arena, and that seated about 17,000. Ateneo came here in 2009-10 and that was a packed crowd.

“Between (SFU Event Coordinator) Tiffani Martinez and myself, and having some very good Filipino players on the team, I thought it was an easy fit. I think we can really build this and create more excitement. For young Filipino children, they can come see someone of their heritage play in the NCAA, and I think it is really inspiring. It would have been nice to get the win, but our university did a great job hosting Filipino Heritage Night.”

Filipina Canadian councilor Maita Santiago, who is also an SFU alumna, said she is proud of the celebration of Filipino heritage.

“I’m just so extremely proud especially as an SFU Alumni, to see something like this. Parang sinasabi ng SFU na ang community, hindi lang kayo nakikita pero we should celebrate our heritage,” Santiago said in an ABS-CBN report.

There was also a display with a Philippine diorama, a board of moroland weapons, and banners with the words ‘mabuhay’ and ‘salamat.’

Filipino-Canadian players David Penney, Elliott Dimaculangan, and Hunter Cruz-Dumont were equally proud about playing that night and for being Filipino.

Penney, who is a point guard, said he learned basketball from playing in Filipino leagues.

“I’m really happy to see all these Filipinos out here because I know that the FIlipino community in Vancouver and Burnaby is huge and I don’t think it’s talked about enough and I’m glad that we got this night,” Penney, who led his team with 15 points and seven rebounds, said.

Dimaculangan, whose dad used to take him to his games, said he has been playing basketball since he was five.

The 6’2″ point guard said he, too, was glad for the Filipino Heritage Night.

“Filipino Heritage Night was amazing. It’s good seeing a big crowd, nice to influence some of the younger guys,” Dimaculangan said.

Dimaculangan, a sophomore guard, had a team-best five assists.

Both Penney and Dimaculangan are interested in playing pro-basketball in the Philippines after they graduate.

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