Grade school pals founded thriving league for Filipino hoopsters in LA area
Two pals in the third grade in the Philippines reunited as adults in Los Angeles and formed one of the first Filipino basketball leagues in 2008.
Laurence Elorde and Pocholo Gatmaitan serendipitously bumped into each other in a gym in the Eagle Rock area of LA, and shortly thereafter founded FASA Basketball, a men’s basketball league that also serves as a social glue for Filipino immigrants, Filipino Americans and their families.
The games started with seven teams in 2009, in the competitions that spanned three months. The league now has some 100 teams, according to its website, but Covid-19 has apparently whittled that down to half.
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“They tell us ‘I’m new here to America. We’re looking for a basketball league, can you help us out?’ And that’s what we do. We want to build a place where Filipinos and Filipino Americans can come together and enjoy the game we all love,” Elorde told Canilao.
The league has two divisions where 40 teams compete through the winter in the South Bay and Los Angeles areas, leading to a playoff next June.
Gatmaitan said the FASA league is also a way for outstanding Filipino hoopsters to get recruited to play college or professional ball in the Philippines, as he often gets calls, he says, from coaches scouting for talent.