Feb 06, 2023

First in Asia: PBA, Virtualness team-up, set trend with launch of NFT

The Philippine Basketball Association and Virtualness formally announced to the media the launch of the PBA Virtualness platform. Present at the media briefing are (from L-R) TNT and Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes, advisor to Virtualness; Joyee Biswas, Virtualness head for Media and Sports; Kirthiga Reddy, Virtrualness co-founder; PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial; Jo Francisco, PBA marketing director and Saurabh Doshi, Virtualness co-founder.

THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and Virtualness, a mobile-first platform which simplifies the complex world of Web3, on Sunday announced that Virtualness will exclusively launch an innovative, easy-to-use digital experience for basketball fans via branded digital collectibles.

These NFT collectibles range from commemorative, topical, gamification to unlocking unique fan experiences.

"The PBA and its players are embraced by their fans not just in the Philippines, but throughout the world." said Kirthiga Reddy and Saurabh Doshi, co-founders of Virtualness.

"We've been at the heart of Web2 ecosystem building, and the digital transformation of media, sports and entertainment over the last decade. We're on our journey to do it again in Web3 and excited to enable the PBA to mimic various physical experiences in digital forms and in newer ways unlocked by the power of blockchain."
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PBA will feature a customized community built around purchasing, trading, and owning of digital collectibles. Fans can collect past and present live in-game moments and merchandise from the PBA on the Virtualness platform.

Moments such as Japeth Aguilar's's dunks or June Mar Fajardo's use of finesse and stature that have made him known as "The Kraken," will all be available to be owned and collected by fans. They will be used to unlock unique virtual and real world experiences such as player meet and greets or invitations to special seats as well as online discounts, exclusives & more.

"Layon ng PBA na sumabay sa takbo ng makabagong panahon. Kaya nagagalak tayo na narito ang Virtualness upang maging kaagapay natin sa pagbibigagay ng saya sa ating mga fans sa tulong ng makabagoing teknolohiya," said PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial.

"Virtualness understands how to make it simple and entertaining for our fans to extend their fandom via digital collectibles and experiences. We believe this will help us leverage next-generation technology to continue basketball's relevancy as a cultural phenomenon in the Philippines and around the world."

The Philippines is a tech savvy nation, ranking in the top five nations across the globe interested in NFTs.
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According to Research and Markets Philippines NFT Market Intelligence Report 2022, the NFT industry in Philippines is expected to grow steadily at a 32.6% CAGR during 2022-2028 reaching $12.5B+ by 2028. In addition to building relevancy, especially for the next generation, the PBA believes this initiative will further fuel fandom & encourage more children to participate & learn the nation's favorite sport.

"In my work with professional athletes and executives, I always strive to make a difference, that's what led me to connect Virtualness with the PBA," said Vincent 'Chot' Reyes, head coach of the TNT Tropang Giga and Gilas Pilipinas.

"This is our players' and league's way of giving back to our community of fans who have given us so much already. In turn, we believe this will help us deepen and strengthen the future of the PBA and the sport overall. It's time the PBA ventures into new arenas to connect with a greater audience, and I think they have the right partner in Virtualness," added Reyes, who is an advisor in the partnership.

The PBA Virtualness platform will launch in the first half of 2023, with loyalty fan experiences and rewards following later in the year.