Written by: Vic Sebastian and Miguel Rocha

Shot by: Jeg Nealega

Manila. The nation’s capital. And basketball its way of life.

The game is everywhere. All across the country, in every corner, in every city, everywhere you look: makeshift hoops in narrow streets and tight eskinitas, varsity basketball sported by schools and universities, and on television screens in every local neighborhood. Whether you hoop in Hyperdunks or ball barefoot, the game’s energy is alive in every corner of the Philippines.

The Street Game

Every basketball court in the city has a story to tell. Your local barangay court may well be represented in college hoops or in the pros. Wherever the court may be, there is no doubt that some of our best basketball talents are born and bred on the streets. All around the city, the game breathes life and inspiration to the hopes and dreams of the communities that embrace it.

The Tenement Court is no exception. Set in the heart of a mass housing project that has long been condemned and severely battered over time, more than 1,000 families live in this urban concrete structure. Despite being declared unsafe and deteriorating for over 50 years, its community takes great pride in calling this place home. Here, basketball is more than just a game.


It’s 8am at the Tenement building on the outskirts of Taguig in Manila. You can still hear the roosters, the sound of fish balls frying and drips of that sweet and spicy sauce on the floor catch your eye. Bells ring, the church right beside, school bells follow, couple of grade schools surround.

Proceeding to the basketball court area, clothes are hanging on the walls of each floor, some falling all the way down to the court, a pair of jeans on one of the 3-point lines is run over by a kid rushing home on his bicycle. Graffiti on the upper floors have you wondering how they even got up there to spray paint on those areas.

Despite its rugged conditions, the court represents the heart and soul of Filipino basketball culture. It is one of the game’s most striking environments anywhere in the world and the court is well represented by the people and its community. They scream homecourt advantage and take pride in winning their games on their turf. Whatever the surroundings may be, basketball holds this community together and the game brings them hope.

The Big Three

Coming from St. Louie University in Baguio City, Chris Paccial packed his bags and moved to the Tenement area in 2008. Now he is one of the facilitators that make sure everyone gets to play ball. Part of the trio that oversees the court, Paccial is one of the founders of the Tenement Basketball Club League, an Inter-Floor (pretty cool concept) tournament that pits the Ground Floor versus the other residents from the 2nd Floor all the way up to the 7th floor.

“The 4th Floor is a powerhouse. They mostly get the championships.” Paccial says, echoed by other residents.

Other than their own community league, they have been hosting a Tenement invitational since 2010 where teams from all over Taguig head over to compete.

“Basketball has been life here since the 90's where the likes of PBA legend Bong Ravena have come out to play.” Coach Darwin Domingo, another respected individual at the Tenement says. Domingo was also one of the coaches who helped out during the Nike Rise campaign a couple years back.

Scanning the court proper, you will see a handprint cemented, plastered on the side of the court, reminiscent of a Hollywood star. It belongs to LeBron James.

“The one beside it has legendary street ballers, Hot Sauce and More Free as well as Jimmy Alapag,” said John Bugtong, the final member of the Tenement’s Big Three.

Worldwide Impact

It’s 2014. A visitor from France – Stephane Ashpool of House Pigalle – asks locals to bring him to a basketball court that symbolizes the Filipino style of play. At the time, there was only one court, the Tenement Court. It was love at first sight. Word of mouth spread, resonating across different parts of the world and eventually led to a visit by one of his good friends, whom he had recently collaborated with on a Nike project.

LeBron James

“Visited this amazing place in Manila today. An abandoned parking garage that’s been taken over by more than 1,000 displaced family members,”

“This basketball court is its heart and soul, and if it weren’t for basketball giving the kids a distraction from the bad influences around them the state would tear it down. Honored to have my likeness grace this space. Until next time Philippines.”

Paul George

“I love it here. The people here are amazing. Thank you for coming out and supporting me.”

A highlight of PG’s visit was a game of Tower Ball, a unique side event invented here at the Tenement Court. The game starts with someone running from half court and laying it up. He picks up the ball and proceeds to throw the ball up to the second floor where someone is waiting, it goes on until the 7th floor and all the way back down. PG’s team took home the W that night.

Jordan Clarkson

“I love the vibe. I’m going to keep coming back here.”

While visiting his home away from home, JC would leave the resident crowd in awe with a banging between-the-legs dunk.

The moments captured here keep the Tenement community inspired and energized. Events like Picnic Games keep ballers in the area on their toes. The annual basketball event started in 2014 and has been ongoing for the past 4 years with Mike Swift and company leading the way. The Picnic Games event is always an opportunity to refresh the basketball court and its surroundings, with resident artist Maya in charge of the artwork and graffiti that the residents themselves help paint on the court.

Behind The Design

The Nike React Hyperdunk 2017 is the Swoosh’s newest team silhouette. Through the years, the Hyperdunk has been dubbed as the “signature shoe of Nike Basketball”. Through an evolution of innovation and aesthetics, the Hyperdunk model has become popular across all levels of basketball.

To celebrate basketball’s global capitals, Nike Basketball created a six-city Hyperfam collection: each shoe representing a compelling basketball story from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Beijing, Madrid and Manila.

The ‘Manila’ edition of the Nike React Hyperdunk Low 2017 pays homage to the Tenement Court, highlighting its unique and iconic look through an all-grey engineered mesh upper and concrete-style midsole, reminiscent of the cracked, chipped cement that greets you as you bend to cross over through the chain fences and into the basketball court.

The shoe’s color palette, combined with a basketball interpretation of the three stars and sun graphic on the heel, reflects the roots of the city’s love and passion for basketball– the streets.

Design is meant to provoke emotion; emotion that is triggered by the colors you see and the stories they tell. The Nike React Hyperdunk Low 2017 has Manila written all over it, symbolic of the Filipino’s never-ending love for the game.

Built On The Streets

It’s 2pm and seemingly from out of nowhere there are at least 20 people on the court. A good mix of kids, teens and adults waiting their turn to play a game of 5 on 5. Heads come out to watch from their respective floors. Back on the court, the kids gather around the shoe. They start grinning when they see it, knowing what exact colorway this is.

‘Kuya yan ba yung Hyperdunk Tenement?’ one kid blurts out, sensing that a part of him contributed to the inspiration of the shoe.

Live and breathe basketball. Wake up. Ball. Repeat.

Philippine basketball is well represented in pocket areas such as the Tenement. And time and time again, basketball heroes rise from the streets. Wherever you are, wherever your court, be proud of where you come from. Be proud of your roots. Where basketball dreams begin.

Built on hope. Built on the streets.

The Nike React Hyperdunk Low 2017 ‘Manila’ releases on Saturday, August 19, 2017 globally exclusive at Titan Fort and on TITAN22.COM.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the shoe will help support the uplift of the Tenement Court and the community's youth basketball tournament.

#FLOTG #RepYourCourt