Cage clinic 33 years and going strongBy Manolo R. Iñigo |Philippine Daily Inquirer
Aimed mainly at getting the youngsters into sports and keeping them away from drugs and other bad habits, the pioneering BEST (Basketball Efficiency and Scientific Training) Center is marking its 33rd anniversary this year.
Founded in 1978 by heavyweight (pun intended) Nic Jorge, former national head coach and varsity player of the University of the Philippines Maroons, and his petite wife, Marlene, BEST Center is only one of many organizations supported by Milo as a corporate commitment.
Milo also bankrolls other well-known sports events, including the annual Milo Marathon and Checkmate and clinics in taekwondo, bowling, gymnastics, badminton, golf, football, karatedo, volleyball, squash, fencing and table tennis.
BEST Center is Asia’s first scientific school of basketball where students from as young as five years old and until the age of 12 learn the fundamental of the game (for Small Basketeers Philippines) and, eventually, moving up into the next higher level at age 13 to 14 where they can play for the Passarelle tournament, a cagefest organized in Italy by Fiba (International Basketball Federation.
It is noteworthy to know that during the week-long BEST sessions, the young participants are taught not only the basics of basketball, but also good values such as personal discipline, sportsmanship, camaraderie and respect for their elders, valuable lessons they will carry through their adult life.
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Unselfish plays earned for rising basketball star Luis Miguel Velasco of Lourdes School of Mandaluyong the Most Valuable Player award after his team eliminated Ateneo-A, 52-47, in the National Capital Region (NCR) championship of the Small Basketeers Philippines recently at the Xavier School gym.
Velasco, son of former La Salle assistant coach Gabby Velasco and grandson of former Marilao, Bulacan, Mayor Nonoy Duran of the UP Maroons, scored only eight points, but he ably assisted teammates Gian Robert Mamuyac (19 pts) and Benedict Angelo Cruz (10 pts) to key the hard-earned victory.
With the triumph, Lourdes advanced to the national finals set Nov. 19-20 at the Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga City.
In the Passerelle championship, MVP Jarrell Radley waxed red-hot, scoring 36 big points, to singlehandedly lead defending champion Xavier School against San Beda College-Rizal, 73-65.
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Basketball became the Philippines’ favorite pastime, partly as a result of media support through television, print and radio broadcasts of the games.
The late Willie Hernandez, widely accepted as the dean of Filipino sportscasters, started basketball exposure on radio, covering MICAA and NCAA games in the 1950s his inimitable way and providing radio listeners—of which there were millions—with a voice that was virtually visual.
TV and print media coverage of basketball has also been without letup. All over the country, one can see basketball courts even in small streets in Metro Manila and in town plazas and vacant lots in the provinces.
The Filipinos’ obsession with the dash-and-dribble game started when the Philippines made a rousing debut in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games by finishing fifth under the late coach Dionisio “Chito” Calvo.
In 1954, the gritty Filipinos won third place in the World Basketball Championship in Rio de Janeiro behind an all-star team bannered by the legendary Carlos “Caloy” Loyzaga and Lauro “The Fox” Mumar. Its coach was master tactician Herminio “Herr” Silva, who was, unknown to many, then ailing at that time.
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