Synopses & Reviews
Hoops dreams in the Philippines-a fresh and unforgettable basketball diary of one man's journey and one nation's passion.
Welcome to the Philippines, where the men are 5'4," the everyman's Air Jordans are a pair of flip-flops, and the rhythm of life is punctuated by the bouncing of a basketball...
Allured by the idea of an island nation full of people who love the game as irrationally as he does, American journalist Rafe Bartholomew arrived in Manila to unlock the riddle of basketball's grip on the Philippines. On his unforgettable journey, Bartholomew spends a season inside the locker room of a Philippine professional team, dines with politicians who exploit hoops for electoral success, travels with a troupe of midgets and transsexuals who play exhibition games at rural fiestas, and even acts in a local soap opera. Sweating his way through hard-fought games of 3-on-3, played with homemade hoops for 50-cent wagers, Bartholomew uses a mix of journalistic knowhow and the hard-court ethics he learned from his dad to get in the paint and behind the scenes of Filipinos' against-all- odds devotion to the sport.
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"Wonderfully written and conceived: a white man walks the earth with a basketball and discovers a society so colorful it almost sounds make-believe. This book is more than a front row seat to a body-twisting, triple-clutching, no-look passing basketball world in flip-flops. It humanizes a nation and reclaims the innocence of a sport that has been swallowed whole by stereotypes and clever marketing schemes."
-James McBride, author, Miracle at St. Anna, The Color of Water, and Song Yet Sung
"This is the kind of book that makes you proud to be a sportswriter, for at its best, sportswriting informs, entertains and educates, like all great writing. Rafe Bartholomew, the young, 6-3 'giant American' in the land of the Lilliputian-but-basketball-mad, turns the Philippines into a hoops carnival, teaching us as much about this complex nation as any history book. I learned, I laughed (I mean, out-loud, splatter-the-page hilarity), I loved it all. Pacific Rims is nothing but a joy."
-Rick Telander, Senior Sports Columnist, Chicago Sun-Times, author, Heaven Is a Playground
"Rafe Bartholomew's Pacific Rims is a rollicking good time, a kind of gonzo basketball journey filled with laughs and pathos. Who would've thought the Philippines was so hoops obsessed. What a cast of eccentric characters. Just hearing the tales of players like Billy Ray Bates - an American import known in his day as the Black Superman - makes this a ride worth taking."
-Alex Kotlowitz, author, There Are No Children Here and The Other Side of the River
"Rafe Bartholomew traveled to the Philippines to better understand a country that loved basketball as much as he did. What's resulted is a book as varied and unique as the hoops tradition he found there, a dizzying mish-mash of social history, personal narrative, and rock-solid sports journalism. As raw with emotion as it is informative, Pacific Rims can make you both laugh out loud and tear up-sometimes in the span of a single sentence."
-Bethlehem Shoals, author, FreeDarko Presents: The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac
A young man's journey through the Philippines' most unlikely obsession: basketball.
In Pacific Rims, Rafe Bartholemew, journalist, New Yorker, and veteran baller, ventures through the Philippines to investigate the country's love of basketball.
From street corners where diehards fashion hoops out of old car parts to the professional league where politicians exploit team loyalties to win elections, Pacific Rims gets the story-and gets in the game.
About the Author
Rafe Bartholomew is an assistant editor at Harper's magazine. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Seattle Weekly, Detroit Free Press, and The Best American Sports Writing 2007. He currently lives in New York.