Hoops fan finds a way to play for Gilas ... virtually

Jeck Batallones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 07 2023 10:10 PM | Updated as of Aug 08 2023 06:01 PM

The eGilas team in action during the eSports Olympic week. Courtesy of Richard Brojan
The eGilas team in action during the eSports Olympic week. Courtesy of Richard Brojan

MANILA - The FIBA World Cup is two weeks away but Filipino basketball fans are already feeling the World Cup fever.

Clark Banzon, in particular, is excited to see his basketball idols in person. Clark once scored 40 points in a hoops game against a team from Turkey and earned admiration even from his rivals. 

But that was not done on a hardwood floor or on an outdoor court. He did it in an online basketball game.

Clark dreams of playing hoops professionally and even representing the country in the FIBA World Cup. There's just one problem. 

“Dream ko po maging basketball player the. Ayun nga po reality sets in na hindi naman ako ganun kagaling mag basketball,” he said.

Then came the pandemic where contact sports were not allowed. This gave birth to the eFIBA, a world tournament sanctioned by FIBA featuring the best console players from all around the world playing the NBA 2k videogame franchise.

The Philippines even had its own national team, aptly named the eGilas. Richard Brojan served as their team manager and he carefully selected the team.

“Pretty much the same as FIBA but esports lang so per region din 'yan. Usually, may qualifiers yan sa Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and the champions from different regions will duke it out usually sa world championship,” Brojan said.

Unlike when playing regular basketball console games at home or in shops where a single player controls all the players, in eFiba each position is handled by one player, like a real basketball game.

Coach Nite Alparas explains that teamwork and communication are essential.

“Parang totoong basketball po. Pag simpleng rebound lang, sisigaw ka akin to akin to tapos pupwesto na iba. Kanya-kanya din trabaho,” he explained.

The eGilas team has made waves in international competitions. In 2020, they were the FIBA eSports Open champion. In 2021, they placed second. In FIBA eSports just recently they became the 2023 eFIBA Season 1 champions.

For Clark, whether on the hardcourt or consoles, representing the country is an honor. Somehow he found a way to make his dreams come true.

“Kahit ano naman po gawin, basketball pa rin naman po siya. Kahit virtual o traditional, it’s still basketball. Sobrang laking honor naging part ako ng eGilas. Sabi nga nila, there is no higher level of pride ng paglalaro ng game mo ng nire-represent mo country mo,” Clark said.


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