The first Filipino Heritage Night held at the Simon Fraser University gym in Burnaby, BC saw the Philippine flag proudly displayed during the match between the SFU Red Leafs and the Western Oregon Wolves.
SFU basketball coach Steve Hanson pushed for the holding of the event because of the school's strong Filipino Canadian players.
They include David Penney, Elliott Dimaculangan, and Hunter Cruz-Dumont.
"The local Burnaby basketball community has a lot of strong Filipino players so we knew it would be a success," Hanson said.
Filipina Canadian councilor Maita Santiago, who is also an SFU alumna, said she is proud of this celebration of Filipino heritage.
"I'm just so extremely proud especially as an SFU Alumni, to see something like this. Parang sinasabi ng SFU na ang community, hindi lang kayo nakikita pero we should celebrate our heritage," Santiago said.
To match the night’s theme, all the SFU coaches wore barong during the game. Also on display was a Philippine diorama, a board of moroland weapons, and banners with the words 'mabuhay' and 'salamat.'
Filipino Canadian players Penney and Dimaculangan displayed their agility on the court. Unfortunately, the team failed to make the basket to push the game into overtime.
Penney, who is a point guard, said he learned basketball from playing in Filipino leagues.
"I’m really happy to see all these Filipinos out here because I know that the FIlipino community in Vancouver and Burnaby is huge and I don’t think it’s talked about enough and I’m glad that we got this night," Penney said.
Dimaculangan, whose dad used to take him to his games, said he has been playing basketball since he was five.
The 6'2" point guard said he, too, was glad for the Filipino Heritage Night.
"Filipino Heritage Night was amazing. It’s good seeing a big crowd, nice to influence some of the younger guys," Dimaculangan said.
Both Penney and Dimaculangan are interested in playing pro-basketball in the Philippines after they graduate.
Simon Fraser University, SFU Red Leafs, Western Oregon Wolves, Filipino Heritage Night, TFC News