The New York Knicks will celebrate Filipino American heritage night when they face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
The Knicks, in cooperation with the Rise Hoops, have allotted a blocked section for Filipino Americans. The lower-level ticket packages start at $85, while the upper-level packages start at $60. The discounted ticket prices come with a Filipino-inspired Knicks hat and a $15 food and beverage credit.
New York has the third-most population of Filipinos in the US with approximately 236,000, according to a research study in 2019.
In October 2019, around 800 Filipino American members of the Staten Island Philippine American Group (Sipag New York), Queens Long Island Basketball, the Outstanding Filipinos in America (TOFA), Xanders Basketball, and Rise Hoops watched the Filipino Heritage Night-featured game between the Knicks and the Chicago Bulls. Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray also graced the event and joined the enthusiastic Fil-Am community in the celebration.
Rise Hoops president and founder Banjo Albano said he’s been working with the NBA for a while now. Rise Hoops is a 360-degree basketball brand platform that bridges Filipino basketball fans in the Philippines and the US. Albano’s group has organized and hosted several of the league’s camps and NBA athletes’ visits, such as the LeBron James and Stephen Curry Tours in the Philippines.
“So, when the Knicks approached me to promote Filipino American Heritage night, it was a no-brainer,” Albano said.
Last month, reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Jordan Clarkson, and No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green made history as the first two NBA players with Filipino heritage to play in the same game.
Albano tried to push for the Knicks-Rockets game on November 20 to make it more special with the presence of Green. But the Knicks have already penciled their home game against the Cavaliers, Clarksonâ€™s former team for the event to cap off the Filipino American Heritage month which is being celebrated across the US in the month of October. Even without Green, Albano said they had sold most of the lower-level tickets. Meanwhile, the Knicks have allocated extra tickets in the upper level to accommodate more Filipino American Knicks fans.
“I think [Knicks] were very happy with the overall reception of the Filipino Americans for the [Sunday] game,” Albano said.
Aside from Clarkson and Green, several Filipino Americans are around the league in the coaching and medical staff. Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra is the face of Filipino-American coaches in the US. Recently, the Sacramento Kings hired Jimmy Alapag as part of their G League team’s coaching staff under Bobby Jackson. Alapag is one of the most decorated former Philippine national players. Alapag also served as an assistant coach in the Philippine Basketball Association, Asia’s first professional basketball league.
The Knicks also employs the first Filipino to make it on the medical staff for an NBA and MLB team. Knicks physical therapist and wellness lead Erwin Benedict Valencia was raised and educated in the Philippines. Before joining the Knicks, he was the Rehabilitation Director of the Pittsburgh Pirates for eight seasons.
The Knicks are coming off a huge comeback win against defending champion Milwaukee Bucks last Friday on the road. They are looking to improve on their 6-3 start.
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