A Filipino in the NBA? Yes!

2 11 2009


Just like my friends as well as millions of others in the Philippines, I’m an avid basketball fan, especially when it comes to the NBA. Every year I watch and keep up with the warriors religiously, I join a couple of Yahoo fantasy basketball leagues, and I play the sport with my family and friends when I can (although I couldn’t hit a three pointer nor handle the ball to save my life). With the opener of the season passing just a few days ago, I sit and wonder as I’m watching a game: Has there ever been a professional Filipino NBA player?

Luckily with the help of Google, I found an answer to my question: Yes! There has been fellow pinoy brother that has played at the glorious NBA level. Raymond Anthony Townsend was the first ever Filipino to have played in the NBA. His father, Ray Sr. Townsend, was American, but this mother, Virginia, was a Filipina who haled from Balayan, Batangas. Sure this makes him half, but this still makes him the first Filipino to make it to the NBA (anyways, Barack Obama is only half black and people call him the first black president).

Listed as a 6’3, 175 lb point guard, he was a member of the 1975 UCLA team that captured a national title in his freshman year. In his senior year, he was the starting point guard and was named captain of the team. That year, he averaged 14.7 PPG and shot 53.6% from the field, as well as 87.2% from free throw range.

After his solid campaign at UCLA, he would then be drafted in the first round of the 1978 NBA draft by none other than the Golden State Warriors the following year. In his first two seasons, he would average about 5.0 PPG, playing only 11.9 minutes a game. He would then spend his third and final season in Indiana, playing only 14 games and only averaging 2.5 PPG with about 6 minutes a game. The year after, he called it quits and retired altogether from the NBA.

Despite his limited success in the NBA, as a fellow pinoy I am very proud to have found out that someone with roots from the motherland has made it to the NBA. I only hope and pray that in my lifetime I get to witness another brown brother make it to the NBA level again. For now, I’ll just watch and pretend that Monta Ellis’ speed comes from his Filipino side.
-Nes Martin Morales





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