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Wheelchair basketball in the doldrums

Text and video by IGAL JADA SAN ANDRES

A RESOUNDING cheer went up at the jampacked SM Mall of Asia Arena as the 75th UAAP men’s basketball games drew to a close with the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles taking the championship for the fifth time in a row.

Elsewhere, NBA fans regularly check for updates on their favorite teams as the regular season finally opened on Oct. 30. Questions such as “How are Dwight Howard and Steve Nash doing in the Lakers?” or “What is Jeremy Lin doing in the Rockets?” plague their minds as they click link upon link of basketball information.

In all these events, a group of basketball players watch on, cheering their favorite teams even as the itch to play grows. But what can they do? Competitions and chances to play are scarce, and not everyone knows about their existence.

Compared to the more “popular” forms of basketball, wheelchair basketball in the Philippines is in a slump.

“If you’re an athlete, if you’re a Philippine wheelchair basketball player, you always want to play, right?” Juanito Mingarine, a wheelchair basketball player for 22 years, said. “Especially if you’ve come to like it.”

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The author is a senior journalism student at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. She submitted this story for the journalism seminar class “Reporting on Persons with Disabilities” under VERA Files trustee Yvonne T. Chua.