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The ball must bounce the same for all who love the greatest game

By Angel Martinez Published Mar 31, 2022 9:20 am

Ateneo de Manila University’s Blue Eagles Basketball Team and Jordan Brand join hands to bring the legend of Michael Jordan closer to the university and to all those inspired by his pursuit of achieving greatness and his love for the game.

If there's one country in Southeast Asia whose passion for basketball can rival that of any other country in the world, it’s the Philippines.

Court markings in the middle of the streets, nets in the backyard of our homes and barangays bear witness to our love for the game. The anticipation reaches fever pitch ahead of the collegiate and university-level games when men’s and women’s teams battle it out as thousands of fans flock to the arenas, watch in front of their TV sets, tablets and mobile phones.

Yet, for a basketball-loving country, women’s basketball teams barely get the same amount of viewership and support. Ask any casual observer about last season’s University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball champion and they’ll say Ateneo in a heartbeat, but quiz them on where our Gilas women flew to participate in last year’s FIBA Asia Cup and they may draw a blank. (It’s in Amman, Jordan.) Many women’s teams have accepted playing to smaller crowds, receiving little or no fanfare or the credibility to be equal on the court.

Women play by the same rules as men do. I have seen female ballers play one-on-one with their male peers and beat them at the game.

For LA Mumar, coach of the Ateneo de Manila University’s Blue Eagles Women’s Basketball Team, they have shown no signs of backing down. Driven by sheer dedication and love for the game, their consistent attendance and performance in online practice and workshop clinics is proof that they are at par, if not more, when compared to their male counterparts.

“The dedication of these young women has really been life-changing for me,” shares the proud coach. “In fact, I’m so passionate about coaching the women’s basketball team that I watch women’s basketball a lot more now than men’s basketball! That is where the real passion and rigor lies. That is where the most untapped potential is.”

Passion and potential know no gender, age or social status. As Jhazmin Joson, captain of the Blue Eagles Women’s Basketball Team, says, “Women play by the same rules as men do. I have seen female ballers play one-on-one with their male peers and beat them at the game. I think the potential women have, is so great.”

Currently in the Philippines, basketball is primarily a men’s sport. But the future of basketball must include female voices. Without them, basketball will simply not grow. That is the ethos of the Jordan Brand. The Jumpman logo not just stands for her but with her and by her. It believes the future of basketball extends far beyond the court, where access to a ball, or a pitch is the same for everyone, and the impact of sport is beyond competition and success.

This belief has led the Jordan family to unveil the largest female roster in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the WNBA’s inaugural game. Joining Asia Durr, Maya Moore, and Kia Nurse, the Brand’s active WNBA athletes, Jordan family welcomed five new members—Jordin Canada, Te’a Cooper, Crystal Dangerfield, Dearica Hamby and Satou Sabally—representing a true definition of a family comprising diverse individuals bound by love for the game, whose impact has extended far beyond the court, an impact Jordan Brand wants to replicate here in the Philippines.

And now, the new collective of amazing women from Ateneo’s Basketball Team joins the Jordan family by donning the eponymous sportswear line of jersey number 23, opening doors to not only more diversity in the industry and within the Philippines’ communities, but also bringing the university closer to the legend through their own pursuit of achieving greatness.

The athletic apparel, which includes jerseys with a fit and cut uniquely suited to female players, will be the official uniform of the Blue Eagles Basketball Team during the much-awaited UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) Season 84. Ateneo de Manila University is the first-ever in Southeast Asia and the only one outside of the United States to become a part of the Jordan family.

We want to win. That is our goal, but it isn’t just winning. We want to inspire other women and girls so they can also play the sport they love.

“The partnership with Ateneo is a testament to Jordan’s belief about advancing equity for women here in the Philippine basketball scene, inviting everyone to step on the court and creating a level-playing field,” beamed Mumar. “With a trailblazer like Jordan backing up and lending our Lady Eagles tremendous credibility, they have a chance of receiving the attention they deserve and proving to detractors that there was always something special about them”.

Jhazmin Joson agrees. “This collaboration will allow the people of the Philippines to appreciate that women can play basketball and be recognized for it. Women are capable of so many achievements and the Men’s Basketball Team push us to do more, to do better. We believe we too can achieve what they are doing.”

Imbued with this reinvigorated sense of passion and pride, the Women’s Basketball Team are now dead set on securing a spot in the finals and even bagging a championship title. But they aren’t stopping there. The team wants to inspire the next generation, especially young girls by being positive role models. With that, they aim to go around cities and provinces to conduct a series of clinics and workshops.

“We want to win. That is our goal, but it isn’t just that. We want to inspire other women and girls so they can also play the sport they love,” Jhazmin asserts.

Their motivation for this is two-pronged, as Mumar explains, “We see it as an obligation to share our knowledge with the next generation of ballers so they can learn not only to take up the sport but to be great citizens as well. We believe in an ethos that is greater than just winning or losing a game, one that we borrow from our idol, Michael Jordan.”

This act of paying it forward is consistent with the team’s manifesto of being champions both inside and outside the court—something all athletes in the country should learn to embody. While the glitz and glamor that come with consecutive championships is impossible to ignore, it’s important to remember that the impact of the game goes well beyond competition and success. It’s about creating a more level playing field and ensuring that the ball bounces the same way for everyone.

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Editor’s Note: BrandedUp is designed to provide you with insightful, inspiring and educational content created by PhilSTAR L!fe in collaboration with brands like Jordan Brand.