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Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Philippines 2015 presented by Alaska selects 17 Manila participants for National Training Camp



With the conclusion of the two-day Selection Camp, the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Philippines 2015 presented by Alaska program determined the group of 10 to 14-year old boys and girls to represent Manila in the National Training Camp on April 24 to 26.

The first day saw an initial pool of 519 kids, composed of 480 boys and 39 girls, undergo a rigorous selection process, featuring five stations that graded individual players skills such as lay-ups, dribbling, passing, shooting, and footwork. From there, the group was cut down to 68—featuring the top 40 players and a set of reserve candidates.

A day after, the tryouts held at the PICC Forum provided the coaches a better view on each player through a series of drills, culminating with afternoon scrimmages. Aside from individual skills, the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Philippines team looked at intangibles from the young Filipino talent present as a criteria for hand-picking athletes.

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Our Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA program is also about intangibles which we call our star values. ‘STAR’ is an acronym that stands for sportsmanship, teamwork, positive attitude, and respect. A lot of times in these kinds of situations, players are equal in talent so the star values are really what differentiates players from their other teammates,” shared Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Head Coach Chris Sumner.

The Manila leg was pretty competitive. We have a really good batch of girls and we are excited to see them bring it against the other girls selected from the provinces,” said Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Coach Melissa Jacob.

Manila’s Finest

As a result of intense hours of practice sessions, 17 individuals—consisting of 11 boys and 6 girls—were chosen to participate in the final stage of the National Training Camp selection process to be held at the Mall of Asia grounds.

The National Training Camp finalists of the Manila Regional Selection Camp. (L-R, FRONT): Nelia Jean David, Mikaela Denise Pentecostes, Kyla Flores, Stephanie Villapando, Akemi Marteja, Christine Jazz Unqui; (BACK) Stacey Tibayan, Ernest John Felicida, Ruzzelle Andrew Dominguez, Jac Macasaet, Kai Sotto, Jesse Adrian Ortega, Edrian Custodio, Brevin Lyle Competente, Gab Reyes, Vehnjo Maximo, Christian Allen Vergara and Coach Chris Sumner

The National Training Camp finalists of the Manila Regional Selection Camp.
(L-R, FRONT): Nelia Jean David, Mikaela Denise Pentecostes, Kyla Flores, Stephanie Villapando, Akemi Marteja, Christine Jazz Unqui; (BACK) Stacey Tibayan, Ernest John Felicida, Ruzzelle Andrew Dominguez, Jac Macasaet, Kai Sotto, Jesse Adrian Ortega, Edrian Custodio, Brevin Lyle Competente, Gab Reyes, Vehnjo Maximo, Christian Allen Vergara and Coach Chris Sumner

Joining the Jr. NBA finalists from other regions in the National Training Camp are Stacey Tibayan (13), of San Juan de Letran; Ruzzelle Andrew Dominguez (13), and Brevin Lyle Competente (14), of National University; Edrian Custodio (13), Jac Macasaet (14), and Gab Reyes (14), of De La Salle Zobel; Kai Sotto (12), and Christian Allen Vergara (10), of St. Francis of Assisi College; Vehnjo Maximo (13), of La Salle Greenhills; Jessie Adrian Ortega (13), of Escuela de Sophia and Ernest John Felicida (13), of Corpus Christi College of Cagayan de Oro.

Ang saya ko dahil first time kong sumali tapos nakuha ako,” said 10-year old Vergara, who could not contain his nervousness and excitement after being chosen as the youngest and smallest member of the squad.

Fellow select team member Reyes echoed the same sentiments: “I learned that I have to be humble whenever I play. To be selected, I feel very blessed that God has been very gracious to me like all my hard work paid off.

Meanwhile, forming the NCR Jr. WNBA representatives are Stephanie Villapando (13), of Trace College Laguna; Akemi Manteja (14), and Christine Jazz Ungui (13), of De La Salle Zobel; Nelia Jean David (13) and Micaela Denise Pentecostes (13), of Diliman Preparatory School; and Kyla Flores (14), of Parañaque Science High School.

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The Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA program is nice because it helps other players improve their skills even if they don’t necessarily get selected,” imparted Marteja who impressed the coaches with her performance. “I learned that I am a great person, that I can do more than what I expected of myself.

Progressing to the last stop of this three-month long journey, the organizers are looking forward to witnessing and awarding the 15 best young ballers the country has to offer to an awesome overseas NBA experience together with fellow Jr. NBA All-Stars from Southeast Asia.

We expect them to give their best, knowing that they’re competing with other driven, talented individuals participating at the National Training Camp,” shared Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Coach Rodney Santos. “Kailangang ipakita nila ‘yung galing nila, that is why they are here.

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All photos courtesy of Alvin S. Go and Jr.NBA/Jr. WNBA

For more information on Jr.NBA/Jr WNBA, visit their official website. Follow Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA on Facebook  and Twitter.

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Matt Nieto looks forward to learning from Jio Jalalon, Jayson Castro



When Matt Nieto made his way inside the Meralco Gym Monday evening, the 20-year-old quickly changed his clothes after receiving his Gilas jersey. And once he got dressed, the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ floor general quickly went to work as he wanted to absorb everything he can from the night’s session.

“Actually na-star struck ako. Di ako makapaniwala na nandito ako eh,” expressed the six-foot point guard.

Playing and practicing with the players they idolized growing up has been evident in almost all of the 23 for 2023 cadets. Same could be said about the wide-eyed Nieto as he can’t believe he was side-by-side with the present and the future of the game in Jayson Castro and Jiovani Jalalon.

“Nakita ko pa lang si idol Jiovani Jalalon, nakikita ko parang… di ako makapaniwala na sa isang practice magkasama kami.

“Sila Kiefer [Ravena], lalo na si Jalalon talaga at si Jayson Castro kasi talagang idol ko talaga sila eh. Napapasma nga ako nung una eh kasi parang baka akalain nila ‘sino ba to?’,” the one-time UAAP champion shared.

Nervous, Nieto tried to talk to Castro and Jalalon numerous times during the practice. The two did not turn, welcoming the young buck with open arms.

“Nung nakausap ko na sila medyo na ano na kasi hindi lang sila magaling, sobrang bait pa nila. Madali akong naka-adjust kaagad dito,” he beamed.

Coach Chot Reyes has high expectations with Nieto as he is being groomed as one of the leaders for the 2023 team. Still, he knows that there is still a long way to go for him.

To become a better leader, the second-generation Blue Eagle knows who to reach out to.

“Gusto ko matuto kay Jayson pati kay Jiovani kasi same position kami. And of course yung leadership ni Kiefer, yung mentality na talagang laban kung laban.

“Gusto ko marami matutunan sa kanila kasi wala pa eh, wala pa ako sa peak ko. Sila andun na. So marami talaga akong matututunan sa kanila kasi sobrang galing nila at sobrang dami na nilang na-achieve sa kanilang basketball career,” Nieto gushed.

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SJ Belangel makes leap to top 3 of Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24




Ateneo Blue Eaglets towering teen Kai Sotto and La Salle Greenhills Junior Blazers court general Joel Cagulangan remained the top two high school players in the Chooks-to-Go/National Basketball Training Center 24, but there was a lot of movement this week, including the rise of SJ Belangel.

Belangel, Ateneo’s graduating floor leader, had a sensational week, helping steer the Blue Eaglets to an unblemished 10-0 record. With his exploits, he was the consensus third-ranked player of the week, leapfrogging Mapua High School’s and NCAA MVP Will Gozum.

FEU-Diliman do-it-all guard L-Jay Gonzales and Katipunan swingman Dave Ildefonso also moved up the ladder, while UST Tiger Cub ace CJ Cansino dropped to eighth after finishing fourth last week.

Besides movement at the top, there were also a lot of debutatants in this week’s list.

Blue Eaglets double-double machine Joaqui Manuel’s workhorse type of game paid off, as he was ranked 21st this week.

After firing 51 markers last weekend, Bacolod Tay Tung High School’s Harold Alarcon was named as the 22nd top prospect.

Joshua Yerro of University of Visayas then rounded out the list.

Here is the complete Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24 Week 2:

1. Kai Sotto, center, Ateneo (1)
2. Joel Cagulangan, guard, La Salle (2)
3. SJ Belangel, guard, Ateneo (5)
4. Will Gozum, center, Mapua (3)
5. L-Jay Gonzales, guard, FEU-Diliman (6)
6. Dave Ildefonso, forward, Ateneo (8)
7. Rhayyan Amsali, forward, NU (7)
8. CJ Cansino, forward, UST (4)
9. Clint Escamis, guard, Mapua (10)
10. Aaron Fermin, center, Arellano (9)
11. Terrence Fortea, guard, NU (16)
12. RJ Abarrientos, guard, FEU-Diliman (15)
13. Inand Fornilos, forward, La Salle (11)
14. Evan Nelle, guard, San Beda (12)
15. Warren Bonifacio, center, Mapua (13)
16. John Galinato, guard, Chiang Kai Shek (14)
17. Mac Guadaña, guard, Lyceum (18)
18. Raven Cortez, center, La Salle Zobel (19)
19. Harvey Pagsanjan, guard, Hope Christian (20)
20. Maui Cruz, guard, EAC (23)
21. Joaqui Manuel, forward, Ateneo (N/A)
22. Harold Alarcon, guard, Tay Tung-Bacolod (N/A)
23. Jancork Cabahug, forward, UV (17)
24. Joshua Yerro, guard, UV (N/A)

On Tuesday, January 23, the second episode of Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24 will air live at 7:00pm. Tonight’s special guest will be former Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas player and NBTC alumnus Jeron Teng.

The Chooks-to-Go/National Basketball Training Centre 24 is the first-ever attempt to rank the top high school prospects in the country today.

The weekly ranking used the following criteria: league stats, impact in team, team record, leadership, defense, offense, and level of competition.

These rankings will be used to determine the 24 players who will take part in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game on March at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

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Joyce Sta. Rita slams 28 as Lady Stags avert Cardinal upset



Erasing a disappointing third set, the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Lady Stags upended the upset-conscious Mapua University Lady Cardinals, 25-20, 25-7, 29-31, 25-14, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The win revived the Lady Stags’ campaign after back-to-back losses to the Jose Rizal University and University of Perpetual Help System DALTA. San Sebastian are now at 3-2.

“Andun pa rin naman, apat pa naman laro,” said Stags’ head coach Roger Gorayeb on their chances for the Final Four. “Sana umabot.”

Team captain Joyce Sta. Rita produced a career-high 28 points off 22 attacks, four blocks, and two serves. The senior middle hitter paced her squad’s 58 spikes, who outscored Mapua’s 33.

The Lady Cards capitalized on the rotation wherein Sta. Rita was in the backline in that third set turnaround. Nonetheless, Vira Guillema and the rest of the Lady Stags just turned to their experience to ultimately finish the match.

Gorayeb, nonetheless, hopes his team will toughen up mentally for the home stretch of the eliminations. “Kasi ‘yung laro, nawawala na ‘yan sa physical side, napupunta na sa psychological part ng game.”

Angelie Magundayao lead the Cardinals with 10 markers.

San Sebastian will take on the Colegio de San Juan de Letran (2-3) on Thursday. Mapua (0-5) will take on the Emilio Aguinaldo College (0-5) in a battle of the winless earlier that day.

The Scores:

SSC-R 3 – Sta. Rita 28, Dalisay 17, Santos 11, Encarnacion 10, Guillema 4, Tiangco 2, Eroa L.

MU 1 – Mangundayao 10, Racelis 9, Pena 9, Latayan 5, Morano 4, Frando 2, Mercado 1, Barias 0, Hermano 0, Ramilo L.

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Cardinals blast Golden Stags for third win



After absorbing a sorry defeat from the San Beda College Red Spikers in their last outing, the Mapua University Cardinals subdued the San Sebastian College-Recolletos Golden Stags, 26-24, 25-16, 26-24, to take their third victory of the season, Tuesday morning at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Mark Jason Egan paced the Intramuros-based squad with 14 points on eight attacks and three each of blocks and serves. Team captain Anjo Pertierra finished with 13 markers, while Alfred Pagulong had 10.

Despite a miserable reception output, Cardinals setter Raven Evangelista still had a field day as he produced 32 excellent sets on the 41 attack points of his squad.

Such would not go unnoticed as Pertierra lauded his playmaker’s production that led to the win. He said, “Sobrang ganda kung performance ni Raven. Nakapag-adjust siya sa bad reception. Kino-commend ko siya today.”

Losing that second set big, the Stags threatened to steal the third as they led 21-18 off back-to-back hits from James Eugenio and even forced a deuce. Nonetheless, a quick attack from Pertierra and an ace off Pagulong sealed the win for the Cards.

Pertierra admitted their lack of intensity almost cost them the first and third sets, and hopes the team address it as soon as the next game against the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals.

“Kilala naman EAC na maganda floor defense, sobrang makapit. Sasabayan namin sila, we’ll give our best,” he shared.

That important tussle between the Cards (3-2) and the Generals (2-3) will happen on Thursday.

Former skipper Jahir Ebrahim led the Stags with 16 markers.

San Sebastian (1-4) will try to get back on winning track when they face winless Letran (0-5) later that day.

The Scores:

MU 3 – Egan 14, Pertierra 13, Pagulong 10, Damian 8, Navera 8, Evangelista 1, Bondoc L.

SSC-R 0 – Ebrahim 16, Lana 9, Eugenio 8, Ronato 6, Ongque A 3, Campuspos 1, Eusebio 1, Lazaro 0, Toledo 0, Ongque AC L, Enano L.

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