MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas games had a different ambiance to them during the entire 2017 SEABA Men's Championship here.
The usual basketball crowd was there, but also filling the air inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum were synchronized cheers and chants that, for those familiar, are distinct to football.
Ultras Filipinas had come to support the Philippine national men's basketball team.
The group, normally spotted at Azkals matches, number upwards of 50 people – their chants reverberating around the arena, their long, blue and white Pilipinas bandanas visible no matter where you're seated.
Daryll Jameson Apaga, 21, is the capo or chant leader. He shared how recruitment usually takes place online through social media. Members come from varied backgrounds – from engineers to students.
The group decided to cheer for Gilas because they want to support any and all national teams of the Philippines, not just the Azkals. As long as the group agrees on a game to attend, Apaga shared, Ultras will be there.
Some of their chants are original, but most are inspired by European and South American football chants. To make it uniquely Filipino, Apaga said they like to infuse OPM (Original Pilipino Music) into the tunes and lyrics.
Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
Ultras received much appreciation from Gilas Pilipinas for their relentless support, which also served as entertainment for fans.
"I love the Ultras," Reyes said after the Myanmar game. "In fact at the start of the ballgame we were trying to get the guy controlling the sound system to cut the music off because the Ultras were already starting the chant. It’s great to have them."
Check out the video above to see and hear Ultras Filipinas going all out for Gilas Pilipinas at the SEABA Championships. – Rappler.com