NBA strengthens ties with Filipino fans

THE National Basketball Association (NBA) is strengthening its ties with fans in Asia and the country by providing more local contents, according to NBA Asia Managing Director Ramez Sheikh.

Sheikh told BusinessMirror during a recent interview that NBA Asia has introduced new concepts like playing the game, creating experience for the fans and merchandise, and providing local content.

“It’s never been a better time to be a fan of the NBA in the Philippines. The state of our union is strong, our league is very competitive, and it’s a wide open championship,” said Sheikh, who’s back in Manila for the first time since January 2020 because of the pandemic.

“Here in the Philippines we got great partners, like Cignal and Smart, our broadcast partners, Titan, our merchandise partner that opened up a store recently, and we have 21 marketing and promotional partners here,” he said.

Sheikh said the priority concepts for the fans covers playing the game where they encourage people to participate by resuming the Junior NBA Program in May and court renovation early this year, and creating experiences for the fans like bringing New Pelicans player Herb Jones last summer.

Sheikh also cited the increased accessibility to the games through Cignal and Smart in free TV, pay TV, NBA League Pass and the relaunch of NBA app. He added that local shows in the Philippines like NBA on Fire and Republica Drift—a YouTube series—have been broadcast.

He said that the Philippines continuously serves as one of the biggest markets of the NBA outside the USA, saying Filipinos “are true basketball-loving people.”

“Basketball is the No. 1 sport in the Philippines. But I don’t take fandom for granted,” he said. “So one of my priorities is to continue to look to nurture basketball fandom. Thinking about ways to bring the NBA even closer to our fans.”

He said 55 percent of Filipinos are NBA fans.

“That’s the goal, the challenge, a good one, is we can grow. That’s my priority in the Philippines is to nurture that fan base,” said Sheikh, who took over the directorship position from long-serving Scott Levy.

Sheikh will meet members of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to hopefully collaborate in the country’s hosting of the International Basketball Federation World Cup next year because of the presence of several NBA stars.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes

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