More than the hype: Franco Finn in the FIBA World Cup

Published September 14, 2023, 8:00 AMJon Carlos Rodriguez
Jon Carlos Rodriguez

Franco Finn, the first and only Filipino hype man in the NBA, went back to his roots as he lent his voice to the FIBA World Cup in the Philippines.

Franco Finn/Instagram

The last time I spoke to Franco Finn, the Filipino hype man of the Golden State Warriors, he was halfway across the world, talking about his life as the voice of Dub Nation.

Now, that voice is louder than ever—not because Finn was standing a foot away from me, but because of his latest assignment: host and hype man at basketball’s biggest global stage.

Two decades of effectively encouraging packed arenas to make some noise and 20-plus NBA seasons of hyping up the crowd—all that brought Finn back to his roots, landing in Manila for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

“I’m born in the States, so this for me was a homecoming,” Finn told NBA.com Philippines, minutes before the gold medal match between Germany and Serbia at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

Finn flew in from the US days before that, just in time for the World Cup semis, where four of the world’s best in basketball remained standing.

Team USA connection

One of those teams, Team USA, is a team that Finn has connections with. USA head coach Steve Kerr has been all too familiar with Finn’s voice. For all the years that Kerr coached home games at The Oracle then at Chase Center, it was Finn who introduced him amid the spotlights and blaring beats.

For an important knockout game versus eventual champs Germany, it was Finn, this time in Manila, who introduced Kerr as Team USA head coach. If you were at the venue, you’d sense the familiarity—as if it was just another home game for Finn, but not.  

“I could not pass up on this opportunity. This is an honor, it’s a full circle moment for me as the first and only Filipino hype man in the NBA, 21 seasons now. So this is a dream come true,” said Finn.

Then there’s USA assistant coach Erik Spoelstra, who, like Finn, grew up in the US but found himself flown back to his home country because of basketball.

Finn and Spo never met all those years the Miami Heat and the Warriors played against each other in the NBA. They met for the first time at the World Cup, when their beloved Philippines was host.

“I introduced myself and we had a very special moment, sharing it in Manila. Immediately, we had that Filipino bond,” said Finn. 

Giving back 

The World Cup schedule only allowed Finn limited time to soak in Manila. Finn made sure to make use of it productively.

In between his media rounds and mic duties, Finn made time to visit a neighborhood in Tondo. He partnered with non-profit group Project Pearls to provide groceries and food to the community in need of it the most.

“That was very humbling for me,” he said. It was eye-opening for Finn, seeing the other layer of Manila beneath all the allure that came with the World Cup hosting.

Manila love

Finn’s Manila experience, although short-lived, allowed him a deeper connection to a place he called home; a people he’s always proud to represent.

“That’s why it’s such a special moment for me that I got invited. I think they recognized that I’m a voice for us back in the States, especially for a team like the Golden State Warriors. They welcomed me with open arms, the hospitality here is on another level,” he said.

As Finn was about to head over to the court, to host the biggest game of the tournament, he looked as calm and as ready as he’s always been. 

Manila—regardless of the distance, in all its basketball wonder—is just another home game for Finn, after all. 

“Manila did not disappoint. You talk about the best fans, the most hyped fans for the game of basketball. It’s right here in Manila. Filipinos love every bit of this game,” he said.

“Hopefully, maybe we get the Olympics someday. I would love that one day.”