By Ron EvangelistaBasketball as a male-dominated sport is a thing of the past. These days, women’s basketball is gaining traction thanks to players like Denise Patricia Tiu.
WNBA stars like Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, and Maya Moore have all been giving their league the much needed boost.
But with Perlas Pilipinas and the PBA 3×3 women’s league showcasing their brand of talent, the Philippines is looking to follow in their tracks as well.
For 2013 SEA Games Silver medalist and former Alaska Women Ace Denise Patricia Tiu, this is most certainly a welcome sight.
Ish, as her friends call her, is one of the top women players in the country and will cross you up on the court every day of the week, twice on Sundays.
Growing up in a basketball-loving family (Chris and Charles Tiu are her cousins), the sport was always near and dear to her heart even though it wasn’t her first choice.
“Basketball was more of a leisure thing,” she said. She grew up having swimming, badminton, and tennis as her first sports.
“My family’s always been big fans of basketball. We’d have mini tournaments every year which had a girl’s division and a boy’s division. Everyone from the uncles, aunts to the cousins were all in it, even a few family friends too,” she added.
Tiu and her cohorts have been displaying their world-class talents all around the world, yet they receive less attention than what they deserve. One factor that people may consider is that women’s basketball in the country is definitely on the rise, but is still developing and has yet to crack the mainstream.
She believes that equal opportunities and starting them young may be one of the solutions for them to break into the stratosphere.
“There could be a program started for women’s basketball that will not just focus on the elite but also the grassroots. All levels of society will be tapped and there should be a continuity seen by all. With the right program and right culture built around it, women’s basketball will blossom and people will be given the chance to appreciate it the way we athletes do.”
Ish has also been coaching for the Jr. NBA programs here in the country, training and teaching the next generation of talents. The whole experience has been great for her as she enjoys seeing the potential in the kids of the country.
“I always tell the kids that there was never this much exposure for basketball during my time, so they should be excited because this only means that there is more in store for them. Everything stems from chances and opportunities, but one must realize that these shouldn’t be taken for granted,” added the former Blue Eagle.
Women as coaches have also been on the rise with the likes of Becky Hammon on the coaching staff for the San Antonio Spurs and Jenny Boucek on the Sacramento Kings.
Tiu believes the PBA might soon have one as well if the sport for them continues to progress. “Why not? In any sport, the beauty of it is that when the games start, there are no biases played on court. Opponents are all seen as equal and they are seen as athletes who all deserve respect and fair play. So whether male or female, a great coach is a great coach.”
For anyone regardless of gender who aspire to excel like her on the court whether it be playing or coaching, here’s what she has to say:
“Basketball is such a fun team sport and it is made for all where you can be creative and where you can express yourself. For those who haven’t tried it out yet or who think it isn’t for them, well, you have to experience the thrill and emotions firsthand for you to understand the love we have for this game.”
[Photos from PBA; Jr. NBA Asia]