Ricky Penarubia, director of the Filipino Newfoundlanders Basketball Association in St. John's, says the basketball tournament is a way to bring together the Filipino community. (Arlette Lazarenko/CBC)
A normally quiet gymnasium in St. John's was filled with a mixture of sounds on Sunday.
Basketballs moving up and down the court, crisp passes finding their target, grunts as bodies collided, squeaks from shoes sprinting across the court and, when the ball went through the hoop, the crowd's roar.
This was the second day of an annual weekend basketball tournament held by the city's Filipino community for the Filipino community.
Participants gathered from cities as far as Gander to participate.
"We're all friends, but when you play basketball, I don't know who you are right now," player James Pormento told CBC News while laughing.
The players were focused, playing hard and not afraid to knock another player for a chance to get the ball. When one falls, the game marches on.
Pormento is a doctor, not a professional basketball player. He is one of 150 people who showed up for the tournament.
"A lot of us who grew up in the Philippines can tell you that at every street corner, people played basketball," Pormento said.
"The love for the game is all there and you can feel it when you're playing."
He admits he could be the oldest player in this league made for amateurs. The youngest player just finished high school.
Players from the Filipino community in Newfoundland gathered to play in a weekend basketball tournament in St. John's. Nine teams and 150 players signed up. (Arlette Lazarenko/CBC)
Ricky Penarubia is the director of the Filipino Newfoundlanders Basketball Association in St. John's and is a player himself.
He is fast and aggressive and is quick to create blocks. His family were in the crowd, along with many other families. Dozens of people stood on the sideline with bench space taken up completely.
"We are all immigrants from the Philippines. We came here for a better life for ourselves and our families," Penarubia said.
"Basketball is a part of us. We play to take a break from work and have fun."
Penarubia said the tournament started in 2015 and through social media the league has grown ever since.
But organizing the event isn't easy or cheap.
"We all got together to pitch in and make this event happen," Penarubia said. "Local Filipino businesses helped us sponsor the event, and volunteers brought food."
Rico Orosco announced this weekend's games. He also helped organize the event and says it takes months to put everything together. (Arlette Lazarenko/CBC)
Rico Orosco, didn't play over the weekend but was just as focused on games in front of him. He announced each game and his voice guided the crowd. His tone was in tune with the rhythm of each play.
"We Filipinos are not gifted in height, but we are crazy about basketball," he said. "It's exciting when you hear the crowd cheering for their family members during the game. It's really nice."
On the benches sat the partners, friends and anyone who wished to support the teams. Children ran throughout the gym, barely able to contain their excitement — and neither could the adults who erupted after each basket.
Although the tournament is only played over one weekend, it makes a strong impression on the community, said Penarubia.
"I think it makes everybody proud," he said.
"We're not from here, but we're trying to show that we belong in this community and are proud of our culture and this sport. We are doing our best, enjoying it, and having a laugh with friends."
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