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Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read, January 23, 2011
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This review is from: Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin' in Flip-Flops and the Philippines' Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball (Hardcover)
Overtly, this book is two stories spun into a single narrative:

- A general overview of the culture of basketball in the Philippines.
- The story of a single season ("conference") where the author follows a pro basketball team, the Alaska Aces, through their successes and struggles on and off the court.

However, perhaps the most important story in the book is that of a young man experiencing a new culture that he knew very little about before he arrived. The author arrives looking for something familiar, basketball, and through it discovers and attempts to explain much that is unfamiliar. The reader is taken along on this journey as well, and it's a lot of fun.

I myself have been to the Philippines several times, and I picked this book up at an airport bookstore in Manila. Even though I already knew a great deal about the country, I was pleased to learn tons of things that I didn't know before. Filipinos will probably also learn plenty, and even if they don't they will enjoy the author's perspective their culture.

You could undoubtedly write a much more comprehensive book about basketball in the Philippines than this one. The author makes a good effort to research the history of the sport there, but the brevity of his experience limits how much of an insider perspective he could really gain. Furthermore, his account of the present-day league lacks objectivity because he has become very close to the particular team that he covered. However, this does not negatively affect the book at all: it never pretends to give an objective appraisal of the league from a neutral point of view, but rather gives itself wholeheartedly to conveying a fan's sense of love for the game. This love rubs off on you as you read.

This book was a pleasure to read, and I laughed at loud every few pages. I read it mostly in one sitting, on my flight home from the Philippines; for weeks afterward I told everyone I knew about it. I am now passing it around to my friends, and I ordered a copy from Amazon to send to another friend abroad. In terms of sheer enjoyment this was one of the best books I have ever read, especially in the realm of non-fiction.
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