Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Philippines 2015, presented by Alaska culminated with the National Training Camp held at the Mall of Asia Music Hall, has selected 10 boys and five girls to represent the Philippines in this program.
What started out as a journey across the archipelago—with stops in Puerto Princesa, Binan, Iloilo, Baguio, Bacolod, Davao, and Manila—became an inspiring engagement with several hundreds of budding young athletes, which trickled down to a select 50 boys and 24 girls to participate in the 8th annual Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA National Training Camp in Manila.
“My dream is that the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA program continues to grow, reach more kids, more schools, more cities, and train more coaches. We envision more girls participating, playing basketball, and living active healthy lifestyles,” shared NBA Philippines Country Manager, Carlo Singson. “We are already seeing Jr. NBA alumni in the UAAP and the NCAA, hopefully soon in the PBA, but I would love to see one of these guys make it all the way to the NBA.”
NBA Philadelphia 76ers rookie, Nerlens Noel, and WNBA Legend, Ruth Riley, kicked off the 3-day camp by motivating the kids to give their best in a series of drills and exhibitions lined up their way. Among these activities was the Gatorade training session where participants made their way to Focus Athletics Gym to learn about the benefits of functional training and proper hydration.
“I love working with kids and feel honored to have the opportunity to come here to work with the next generation of talent. As a basketball brother, giving them a good message on how you need to work to reach where you want to be is a great thing,” added Noel.
In spite of growing up at a time when the WNBA was still not yet formed, Olympic gold medalist and 2-time WNBA champion, Riley, echoed the same sentiments in encouraging more young women to take part in programs such as the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA clinics to further hone their skills as a player.
“My role here is to continue to inspire Filipinas and give them confidence to pursue their passion of playing sports whether it’s for their national team or other opportunities to play professionally outside the country,” added Riley.
During the final day, the event grounds hosted an Alumni All-Star game that featured the likes of current UAAP cagers, Hubert Cani and Kib Montalbo, Batang Gilas players, Lorenzo Navarro and Rhayyan Amsali, as well as SLAM Rising Stars, Ricci Rivero and Tyler Tio. Aside from this, there was the NBA Cares program that conducted a fun basketball clinic with the kids of World Vision Philippines.
Standing in between the finalists and the ultimate NBA experience is the exhibition game where the top 20 candidates from both boys and girls division showcased their talents to prove why they are worthy to be chosen as part of the select team.
After each kid was assessed by the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA coaches based on their collective performance and ‘STAR’ values (an acronym that stands for sportsmanship, teamwork, positive attitude, and respect) throughout the camp, the results for the All-Star team were delivered.
Joining the Jr. NBA All-Stars from Southeast Asia are Miguel Santos (14) of Ateneo de Manila; Ernest John Felicilda (13) and Jeffy Mailim (13) of Corpus Christi School; Robert Castro (13) Basti Locsin (13) and Lloyd Oliva (13) of La Salle Greenhills; Edrian Custodio (13) of De La Salle-Santiago Zobel; Joshua Garing (12) of De La Salle Lipa, Batangas; Daniel Coo (13) of St. John’s Institute, Bacolod; and Allen Magno (14) of St. Albert the Great School, Pangasinan.
“I worked hard to get to this point and feel blessed, thankful to the Lord to be here right now,” said Castro, who showed tremendous heart despite being one of the smallest players among the competitors.
“It means a lot to me. As a top player, it makes me more focused and motivated to work harder and help more people play basketball,” imparted Santos. “My advice for the other kids is that every time they step on the court, give your best, stay humble and focused, and be proud of yourself for what you do.”
At the same time, the Jr. WNBA All-Star team is composed of Nelia David (14) and Micaela Pentecostes (13) of Diliman Preparatory School; Kyla Flores (14) of Parañaque Science High School; Luisa San Juan (13) of Amazing Grace School, Laguna; and Heart Donor (13) of Assumption College, Davao.
“Magaling kaming mga napili kasi pinaghirapan namin. Pinagbutihan ko talaga kaya sobrang saya ng feeling na mapili,” said San Juan, who came all the way from Laguna to make a statement by redeeming herself as a top baller after being cut the previous year.
Felicilda and David were presented with Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA MVP respectively, while Santos and Flores were named the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA Ambassadors.
Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA is presented by Alaska. Gatorade, Globe Telecom, and Phoenix Petroleum are Official Partners, while KFC and Spalding are Supporting Partners. Official NBA Broadcasters are Basketball TV, NBA Premium TV, and ABS-CBN Sports + Action. Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA is also supported by the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines (BCAP).