Jr. NBA opens camp to coaches, youth for sixth straight yearBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines – The country’s young ballers and local coaches get a taste of a unique NBA experience as the Jr.NBA rolled off for the sixth straight year Saturday.
Every year, the NBA’s international youth development program chooses the 10 best among the campers after a national training camp and treats them to an all-expense paid trip to an NBA event and gives them a chance to play against another country’s Jr. NBA team.
Last year’s batch of top participants got the rare opportunity to catch Los Angeles Clippers’ star duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, as well as reigning MVP LeBron James of the Miami Heat in the flesh during the NBA’s preseason exhibition in Shanghai, China.
But for Thirdy Ravena, younger brother of Ateneo’s star guard Kiefer and one of the noted standouts of the camp, it wasn’t just the glitz, glamour and the adrenaline that one takes home.
“It’s the values — they emphasize that during the trip. Sportsmanship, teamwork, respect — that’s what I picked up from JR NBA,” said Ravena during the kick off held at the British School in Taguig.
From just 16 schools and a thousand students since its start in 2007 — the Jr. NBA has now reached out to 60,000 students in 500 schools across the country.
“The Jr. NBA program continues to expand and touch the lives of aspiring young players, coaches,” said NBA Country Manager Carlo Singson.
While the aspirants would have to wait for a few more months before the camp opens, the eager coaches started the learning experience on Saturday.
With the presence of the Alaska coaching staff and NBA Asia director of Basketball Operations Sefu Bernard, the Jr. NBA hopes to impart to the coaches the right attitude it entails when guiding their players.
“I know this country very passionate with basketball, so I’m very excited,” said Bernard.
The Aces’ coaches Franco Atienza, Topex Robinson, Louie Alas, Alex Compton and Jojo Lastimosa were also present on Saturday to open the Manila coaching clinic in the afternoon.
After a series of clinics in the cities of Davao, Lucena, and Dagupan, a Coach of the Year will also be selected among the participants.