A non-profit organization in New Jersey has been selected to represent Filipino Americans in a high school basketball tournament in the Philippines.
FilAm Sports, which was founded in 2005 to develop basketball and life skills in Filipino-American youth, received an invitation in July to the Shoe Mart National Basketball Training Center League High School Championship in Manila, the final of one of the top Philippine high school basketball leagues.
The invitation came after the team participated in an international showcase where it won against a team from Panama, according to FilAm Sports project director Aimee Ulep. The organization took time to vet the tournament, which is scheduled to take place in March 2017 and invites international teams to participate, before beginning to crowdfund the trip earlier this month.
"We're definitely humbled and grateful for the invitation and the opportunity to play," Ulep told NBC News. "We've been around since 2005 and we've always been a small group, so this is just a great opportunity to continue to develop Fil-Am youth basketball players, with the potential to play and elevate the game of the Philippines and bring it to a global stage."
FilAm Sports' team will consist of 12 players, and the roster is still being put together. The organization hopes to have the team finalized by the end of November, a deadline that will ensure that players have time to train together and that the organization will have time to obtain uniforms and book plane tickets.
Ulep said the organization has selected some players to represent Team USA and is awaiting confirmation. It is also still looking to fill a number of spots with individuals who are of Filipino descent, 18 years old or younger, and are attending high school. It is screening potential team members through videos sent by applicants that demonstrate their basketball skills. The organization welcomes Filipino-American players regardless of their affiliation, background, or location, Ulep said.