Nat’l youth squad gets Energen support anewBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE PHILIPPINE Youth Team just got some needed boost with three of its players recently joining the NBA Basketball Without Borders Asia and Energen also returning to bankroll the under-18 squad’s international campaigns.
Energen pledged support anew as the Nationals kick off their title defense bid versus Laos in the 8th Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) Under-18 Championship at 6 tonight at the Singapore Basketball Center.
“We just went back to helping the national team this week,” team manager Joel Lopa said during the PSA Forum yesterday at Shakey’s UN Avenue.
“The players have been practicing with their own allowance, they never got to travel abroad to train. Not much perks for this team. It was all love for the sport and love for the country. So we were a bit touched.”
Energen supported the national youth program in the last four years, the last during the 2011 Fiba Asia under-16 tournament where the Philippines finished fourth in Nha Trang, Vietnam.
“Our talent in basketball in this age group is truly immense,” Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios, who added that the SBP has also made arrangements with the UAAP and the NCAA after last year’s youth team played minus some key players due to conflicting schedules.
Standouts Jay Alejandro (National University), Prince Rivero (La Salle Green Hills) and Tomas Ramos (Ateneo), meanwhile, recently participated in the NBA Basketball Without Borders Asia over a week ago in Tokyo, Japan.
“It was a great experience,” said the 17-year-old Ramos, a 6-foot-2 forward. “Not everyone gets to experience this trip and being coached by NBA players and coaches.”
The trio put their skills to the test in the international camp where former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo was among the mentors.