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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.”