Ruel's Reviews > Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin' in Flip-Flops and the Philippines' Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball

Pacific Rims by Rafe Bartholomew
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it was amazing

A brilliantly written tome about the Philippines' infatuation with basketball. Fulbright scholar and hoops junkie Rafe Bartholomew delves deep into his topic, seemingly leaving no stone unturned as he tries to get to the heart of a nation's obsession. From playing pick-up games with the locals to following a PBA team on its quest for a championship, Bartholomew's story of living three years in the Philippines had me longing for a return trip back to my motherland.

I loved how he detailed the many people he encountered during his time abroad: this is stellar feature writing that would make David Halberstam (legendary author of "Breaks of the Game," chronicling the 1979-80 Portland Trailblazers) proud. Whether I was reading about Bartholomew tracking down former PBA stars or verifying rumors of politically incorrect basketball games, I was always engaged and entertained. This is a must-read for hoops fanatics; it's a testament to Bartholomew's skills that a basketball book with nary an NBA anecdote could be so captivating.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 16, 2014 – Finished Reading
May 25, 2014 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason Koivu That surprises me, partly because it's so hot/humid there much of the time and also, isn't the tallest Filipino like five and a half feet tall....and aren't you the tallest?


Ruel Jason wrote: "That surprises me, partly because it's so hot/humid there much of the time and also, isn't the tallest Filipino like five and a half feet tall....and aren't you the tallest?"

Haha, I felt like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when I was out there. I was in the PI during the same time as the author and he absolutely nailed the country's basketball obsession. No matter where I traveled, there was a hoop nearby or somebody wearing an NBA jersey.


message 3: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason Koivu Ruel wrote: "Jason wrote: "That surprises me, partly because it's so hot/humid there much of the time and also, isn't the tallest Filipino like five and a half feet tall....and aren't you the tallest?"

Haha, I..."



American culture is big over there, isn't it? Does their basketball obsession exceed the general level of interest in the U.S.?

I wish I'd known about this whole b-ball thing when I was younger. I would've moved there and lived out my hoop dreams.


Ruel Yes, there's a huge American influence there, and, yes, the interest level in the game is much higher than the U.S. It really is a national sport. Ever been down to Venice Beach and watched those games? The passion (if not skill level) is everywhere in the PI. Every barangay (neighborhood) I visited had at least one community basketball court that was being used, and I saw a lot of makeshift hoops everywhere.


message 5: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason Koivu Ruel wrote: "Yes, there's a huge American influence there, and, yes, the interest level in the game is much higher than the U.S. It really is a national sport. Ever been down to Venice Beach and watched those g..."

That's very cool. Perhaps we'll see some Filipino players in the NBA some day soon.


Ruel Jason wrote: "Ruel wrote: "Yes, there's a huge American influence there, and, yes, the interest level in the game is much higher than the U.S. It really is a national sport. Ever been down to Venice Beach and wa..."

I hope so. And he better play for the Lakers. ;)


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