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Raymond Townsend – The FIRST Filipino NBA Player (For Real) October 6, 2008

Posted by C0Y in People, Sports.
Tags: , ,


Five months ago, I wrote about coach Erik Spoelstra being the first Filipino in the NBA and how proud we Filipinos are, though he’s just half a Filipino. But here’s the thing (and I stand corrected), the truth is, he is actually NOT the first Filipino in the NBA.

So who’ really the first Pinoy on the NBA?

He goes by the name Raymond Anthony Townsend, a A 6’3″, 175-lb point guard from UCLA who was the last pick in the first round (22nd overall) of the 1978 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. Raymond is the son of Ray Sr., (an American), and the former Virginia Marella, who happens to be a Filipina from Balayan, Batangas. This makes him a half-Filipino and the first in the NBA.

But why didn’t we Filipinos know this? Or why isn’t he recognized in any way?

In an email he sent me, he said: “Hello, my name is Raymond Townsend. For the record and to set this straight, I am the first and only filipino to ever play in the NBA, I am the first and only Asian-American to ever be drafted in the NBA First Round. I have also NEVER shirked nor been quiet of my “pinoy” heritage. I am a proud filipino but in those days when I played your culture or heritage were never an important issue because the game was dominated by the black athlete. Now with the influx of international players the NBA is now commercializing the sport internationally with their marketing and taking their business into the world. In Fact, On November 21st, 2008, the Golden State Warriors will be hosting their first Filipino Heritage Night with a game versus the Chicago Bulls. I will be a participating in that event. To no surprise, they sold the arena out in thirty days and are now planning even a bigger event in late March or early April for a second Filipino Heritage Night. Little did the NBA know how much Basketball is the unifying factor for many of our people”.


I really hope somebody will recognize him formally one day cause I guess being the first Filipino in such a very competitive league deserves some recognition.

By the way, 4 years later (1982), he concluded his NBA career under the Indiana Pacers.

3 Critical:

  1. Is It Too Late? – it may be too late to recognize him as the firs Pinoy in the NBA, but I guess he won’t mind if we do it now.
  2. I Wonder Why – why we Filipinos haven’t heard of this player before. We’ve long been waiting for someone to break the barrier and make it to the NBA, yet we didn’t know that Raymund already made it without us knowing. This is sad.
  3. Thanks To – by the way, I have to thank somebody named “ghybot for providing me this information. Who knows, he may be the son of the first Pinoy in the NBA.


1. everydayman - November 6, 2008

Update by: Benny Magdael

Raymond Townsend is finally being recognized by the Golden State Warriors. During their inaugural Filipino Heritage Night, November 21, 2008. They will introduce Raymond during the half-time break. I believe he is the first Asian athlete drafted in the first round by a US professional team.

Currently, Raymond Townsend is hosting his RT Basketball Clinic at Logan High in Union City, California.

2. dream - November 19, 2008

Whew! atlast to break the barrier! the long journey ended long time back even before Yao ming , or Rony Shekaly to say that they where the 1st Asian to play for NBA.And I think we should call Townsend here to Philippines to Finally come out and tell the world that this haunt was even before over on 1978!


3. everydayman - November 19, 2008

I have a good news for you man. I actually got an email from him, and I guess he’s coming to Manila to be awarded by our sports coordinators… and he said he’s going to bring some jerseys with him as well.

This is what he said:

“Jacob, I will be in Manila in March with a lot of my Warrior classic jerseys with my name and number but with a Filipino flag insignia, they are being made right now.”

I’ll be updating everyone here in my blog. Thanks for your visits.

4. dream - November 20, 2008

oh this is really cool! good for you guys who is in manila,I am in the middle east,can I have his blog link, to be updated of him atleast?,

He should have been playing for the Philippine team during his days,too late. does he have children?, who knows they can suit up for philippine basketball…he deserves a real credit and recognition! So people should be inform that we the Filipinos have long been in the NBA even when most of us werent born yet.

5. Vince Gutierrez - December 10, 2008

Raymond Townsend visited my hometown in Batangas in the early 80s as a guest player in an exhibition game which included Freddie Hubalde, Terry Saldana, and other local players in an attempt to boost the gubernatorial bid of Sonny Leviste and my grandpa’s mayoral candidacy. If only i had saved that photo where I was carried by “Tito Raymond” on his shoulders…

Another trivia, Raymond Townsend tried to apply in the PBA as a player for two particular teams in the 90s. But there were no takers as Townsend was already “too old” for their teams.

On the other hand, PBA Legend and Fil-Am Ricardo Brown was also drafted in the NBA by the Houston Rockets in 1979 but never got to play in the prestigious US league. He ended up playing for Great Taste Coffeemakers and the San Miguel Beermen, and is now considered as one of the PBA’s greatest, being included in the league’s Hall of Fame.

I think i read that email also from Townsend to an American friend of mine in his website…

everydayman - December 10, 2008

Good to know those information man. I wish I saw him in person like you did. Kinarga ka pah… heh. Coonsider yourself lucky for having to meet one of our countries basket ball legends.

I hope you’ll be able to send me some pics if some a re still available.

I emailed Jason Webb and suggested to feature or give a ceremony for Mr. Townsend when he’ll come back in the Phil this March I guess. Sana ma pansin niya.

6. Kenny C - June 23, 2009

I actually hear about him before. I think he was a footnote in an article in a newspaper (in the Philippines of course) when Yao Ming made it to the NBA. I just forgot his name. Thanks for reminding me who he was. From what I heard, he shot 100% in one game.

7. Chris_15 - September 24, 2009

well, i just want him to be the head coach of team pilipinas because he made an excellent game in nba and share his skills to the filipino players.

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