In his book Dancing in the Shadows, Dave Carswell beautifully photographs the Filipino flair for basketball innovation

By Eric Nicole Salta | Lead photo from Instagram

While both Philippine and Australian basketball federations have issued a joint apology, Philippine basketball may need some time to rebuild its international image after the disastrous brawl that occurred between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia Boomers a few days ago that saw 13 players ejected and left the sporting world stunned.

If this unfortunate incident proves anything, after all the acrimony and animosity dissipates it’s that the Filipino passion for the sport runs so deep that it becomes a touchstone for everyone concerned—basketball fan or not. Australian photographer Dave Carswell learned that himself throughout his time spent living in Manila.

“Basketball is omnipresent there,” he says in an interview with Co.Design. “The further you travel, the more interesting the basketball construction apparatus becomes.” Last year, Carswell compiled a series of basketball hoops he photographed while traveling around the archipelago—from moveable and improvised hoops in the dense urban centers to rough and ready creations in Pangasinan and Siargao—and turned it into a bestselling  book Dancing in the Shadows

“Basketball is omnipresent there. The further you travel, the more interesting the basketball construction apparatus becomes”

“The reason that basketball really took shape there is that it’s something that can be played anywhere,” Carswell told Co.Design. “It’s not restricted to having a full court. It’s not restricted to having the best equipment. It’s something you can even play as an individual.  For that reason, Filipinos developed this passion for it. It’s become such a pivotal part of their culture and identity.”

Unfortunately the book, sold on his website, is currently out of stock but Carswell’s Instagram shares a number of snippets—enough to tempt you to search for the beauty of these DIY basketball courts and rebuild the Philippine basketball brand. Here are some of what he’s shared:

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I made a book. It's called 'Dancing in the Shadows' and its the result of photographing makeshift basketball courts in the Philippines for two years. I find the construction of basketball courts endlessly fascinating and a remarkable landmark of cultural resistance against corporate entities and wealthy oligarchs interference with public space. I have started a @pozible campaign to help fund the print run. You can pre-purchase the book and also a number of editioned prints from the series. Any support is greatly appreciated. Link in my bio! . . . . . . . #hasseblad #500cm #portra #portra160 #6×6 #mediumformat #film #shootfilm #filmisnotdead #staybrokeshootfilm #basketballourtsph #basketballourts #basketball #philippines #itsmorefuinthephilippines #pozble #crowdfunding

A post shared by Dave Carswell (@daaavecarswell) on

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