• NBA Cafe Manila

    If there’s one thing we can say for sure that men all over the world love, it's basketball. With their hearts racing and their eyes sparkling at the mere mention of NBA teams or any of its players, we can say with confidence that basketball represents the ties that bond men.

    This father’s month, we’re all about celebrating what dads love. And just in time, too, as we feature this one-of-a-kind café that pays tribute to the love of his life (sorry, moms): basketball.

    Basketball heaven, the first in the worldThe very first NBA Café in the world can be found at the SM Aura Premier, with a stunning panoramic view of the Bonifacio Global City. The moment you step inside, you’ll know you’ve arrived in NBA heaven. Hardwood walls and floors give off that basketball court feel and the official logos of NBA teams are displayed at the entrance. Signed basketballs by the sport’s legends are enshrined in glass display cases, and one section of the café features an entire wall’s length covered with various NBA jerseys. A huge videowall becomes the focal point of the café’s main section, where NBA games are shown. Even the bar stools are upholstered in a rubbery orange fabric designed specifically to resemble the likeness of basketballs.

    NBA Cafe Manila

    Authentic jerseys, as well as other memorabilia items, are sold at NBA Café Manila. “We used to have a LeBron jersey, but it was already sold,” says Nian Liwanag-Rigor, general manager. “It was then replaced by a Michael Jordan jersey, but after only a few days, it already got sold, too.”

    These jerseys, which sell like hotcakes, can go for as much as 90,000 pesos each, but this doesn’t stop fans from buying them, as it is akin to finally acquiring something close to a childhood dream. Rigor shares that the 28-year-old who bought the Michael Jordan kept hugging the jersey’s box, refusing to let it go. “He was an Antonio Spurs fan, but he said he’d buy for Jordan. [Suddenly,] he was like a kid [again].”

    Other displayed jerseys, on the other hand, are loaned by avid fans from their personal collections. 
    “It automatically becomes the NBA hub of fans here and in nearby countries as well,” says Rigor. “The café should also help boost sports tourism and hopefully, when foreigners or tourists come to the country, it will also be part of the tourist destination.”

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    It’s all about the experience

    Why the Philippines, out of all countries in Asia? “[NBA] has its own statistics and they keep track of their fan base, and it’s really apparent that we’re a huge basketball country,” explained Rigor. “During the time of [Typhoon] Yolanda, they were really struck with what they saw. Amidst collapsed houses, we Filipinos found time to laugh and to share a common passion, which was basketball.”

     

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