No to sports budget cut, RISE UP Hoops App, alternatives to Pinoy basketball

No to sports budget cut, RISE UP Hoops App, alternatives to Pinoy basketball

The Edmonton Sport Council tweeted about the City of Edmonton’s plan to “Mothball Scona and Eastglen indoor pools, Oliver outdoor pool, and Oliver and Tipton arenas” in order to reduce the operating budget by $1.2 million.

The tweet drew a reaction from Councilor Mike Nickel who opposed the cut saying in his tweet that the better solution is to look at middle management reductions ($75m in savings), tightening consulting ($130m annual budget), and cancelling the mayor’s “fancy City Hall upgrades” ($12m for next year).

Bayani Alcantara, who is president of the Philippine Business Society of Alberta, in a comment posted that “It’s a no brainer that Mike Nickel’s proposal is better. Some people now know that the mayor has a fancy upgrade budget of $12M.”

In contrast, Anna Sumalinog, a former youth leader back home, said “Mike Nickel is an example of traditional politicians taking opportunity over every weakness he sees in the current administration. His proposal sounds good but on the bigger and deeper picture, it is a weightless argument. If you are a true public servant, you must lean to co-exist with your colleagues. He should work his own way to better serve his constituents instead of nitpicking issues.”

The good news, as of this writing, is that the plan to mothball the sports facilities is not going to happen after The Edmonton Journal reported on Dec.10 that the City Council unanimously voted, Dec.9, to reinstate the $1.2 million in the 2021 operating budget to keep those sports facilities open.

The tweet by the Edmonton Sport Council has drawn some reactions and Councilor Nickel offered a better solution and people in the sports community now know that there are City Hall expenditures that can be possibly cut, instead of budget cuts on sports.

My take on this, is that if possible, the budget for City of Edmonton sports should not be cut; instead, it should be increased. What’s $1.2m compared to the tweeted “fancy City Hall upgrades ($12m for next year)”? Right?

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I had the opportunity to cover the final game of the Servus-St.Albert Ballers Club last October and it was really fun watching the championship.

The championship was supposed to be played last March but the Covid-19 pandemic forced the organizers to halt their games and follow the province’s health guidelines.

So, after waiting for seven months, Dominic Narbonita, one of the organizers, informed me that they will at last be playing the final game. It was some kind of a “S-SABC Bubble”, with only players, their coaches, and the organizing team allowed on the court. The fans had to go to the second floor and watch the games from a distance.

I told myself, this could be good news, that basketball is back in the Filipino community. Narbonita and his team, then scheduled another league for the first week of December but as you already know, stricter measures are now being implemented following the rise of Covid-19 cases. And they have to cancel the opening games.

Philippine Sports Association president Gary Perpetua, chief organizer of Edmonton’s biggest Filipino basketball league, said he has been receiving requests from players to resume the tournament in the summer but they decided to completely stop everything in March and have been monitoring the pandemic.

Perpetua made the right decision just to stop everything. “We don’t want to take the risk. Mahirap na,” said Gary, whose league, chiefly backed by Crosstown Auto Centre, has grown to more than 60 teams since they started 24 years ago.

Truth is, Filipino community members always look forward to a basketball tournament because of its fiesta-like atmosphere. Laging masaya kapag may larong basketball. You have to understand that basketball is the No.1 sport in the Philippines and it’s no surprise that in major cities and towns in Alberta, there are basketball tournaments being organized. We just love basketball, thanks to the influence of the well-publicized Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA).

That reminds me of my long-time friends who would even beg their parents for money, just for them to rent those Betamax Tapes of NBA games. That’s how basketball crazy they were. Me? I’m not so crazy about basketball but I began to appreciate the sport because this is one big sport in the Philippines where poor kids who are good at it can have the opportunity to go to college on a basketball scholarship. The sport is just so popular, that all schools, from elementary to university, have a basketball program as part of the Athletics Department. Every basketeer in the Philippines dreams of becoming a professional player in the PBA and be part of the Millionaire’s Club.

I was grateful to be deeply involved in amateur basketball development back home, worked closely with basketball leaders for many years and witnessed college players improve their skills in the regular leagues that we organized, then we learn later on that they were recruited by top schools in Manila. And on a final note, they eventually get drafted and played in the semi-professional or professional league.

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That brings me back to coach Kelvin dela Pena, who has been training young basketball players through his RISE UP HOOPS program in Calgary.

Dela Pena, a former PBA player, is the son of Manoy Ricardo dela Pena, who years ago played for San Miguel in the PBA, and Manang Susan Chicote, who comes from a town where my loving Billacura-Reambonanza relatives live.

I’ve been encouraging PSA president Perpetua that if the PSA can spot young and talented basketeers, they should bring him to coach Kelvin.

That way, his skills can be further improved and prepare him better for the professional league or collegiate tournaments in the Philippines, should they be recruited.

We would love to see a Filipino-Albertan again in the PBA and follow the footsteps of coach Kelvin.

By the way, Coach K’s RISE UP HOOPS app will be launched sometime this month. The app’s first program will be the Jump Program Bodyweight, which he said in his FB post, will be a “perfect time to attack during the pandemic”.

This is one exciting development for the players, specially those who are willing to have the proper conditioning program for the sport. In a very competitive sport, a well-prepared and well-conditioned athlete can perform to a maximum when a well-crafted program is designed for him.

And I always believe that Coach K can deliver that based on his experience, his training, his knowledge and passion for the sport of basketball.

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It’s frustrating, depressing sometimes, to even think that sports activities have taken a big toll because of this pandemic, especially Pinoy basketball.

We even have Filipino billiards players who regularly compete in tournaments organized by Top Shots Billiards & Ping Pong in Mill Woods, however, tournament director Chris Atienza confirmed that the sports facility will be closed for now because of the new restrictions.

Fortunately, there are other recreational activities that the Filipino sports community can take part in.

Watch out for Coach K’s RISE UP Hoops app, join a Pinoy biking club by reaching out to Evan Estigoy of Goldenbucks Bakeshop, or Chris Ayson of WeFix Auto who is active with the Edmonton Pinoy DirtBikers.

I notice our Kababayans are into winter sports these days. Good for them that they can brave the cold, like Kris Salumbides of Medicus Family Health Clinic, who, with his sons, are into snowboarding. Mortgage broker Ryan Paluca and his family are much into tobogganing.

Lovely couple Michael and Janet Lavarez have been doing their daily workouts from the comfort of their home, with all those lifting and dance moves.

Walang basketball or volleyball eh, kaya home exercises muna.

I prefer 45-minute Yoga for Strength with Kristy posted by Manulife on FB as part of its #StayHealthy fitness series. The other video is David’s Garage Grind, a 30-minute full body workout for all levels.

It’s true that we dearly miss basketball, our No.1 sport, but what can we do? This Covid-19 pandemic is not yet going away! Grrrr.

We hope that all members of the sports community will soon receive a vaccine so that we won’t be afraid to gather again because we will be protected from Covid-19.

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Manny Arban and his friends have started a Virtual Dance Fitness using Zoom, so you can also join them. Simply check for any updates on Manny Arban’s FB page. They kicked off their fitness series too with Wowie de Guzman and Bennie Almonte.

If you have the time, join Manny and his friends!

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There are supposed to be Christmas parties organized by various Filipino sports organizations this month but this will not be possible this year due to this damn Covid-19 pandemic.

Our Christmas wish is that all members of the Pinoy sports community will remain healthy and safe during this challenging time.

Maligayang Pasko po sa lahat ng mga Kababayan nating manlalaro, mga volunteers, referees, team managers at mga team sponsors!

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For any sports updates, tips and announcements, especially if you have virtual sports events, let us know by sending an email to

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