NBA Cares: DeRozan leads basketball clinic for special athletes
MANILA, Philippines — The NBA, in partnership with Sprite, brought smiles to the country’s Special Olympics athletes through the NBA Cares program at the Mall of Asia Music Hall Sunday.
Jr. NBA coach Chris Sumner led a basketball clinic while Toronto Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan also helped in conducting a basketball clinic for the 30 Special Olympics athletes as part of the NBA 3X Philippines 2014.
“The partnership with NBA is made more meaningful through our partnership as well with the Special Olympics. At Coca-Cola, we believe in inclusivity and the specialness of all types of people,” said Atty. Adel Tamano, Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications of Coca-Cola Philippines.
“By providing avenues such as sports to children and adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, we open opportunities for them to develop physical fitness, and participate in a sharing of skills with other Special Olympics athletes.”
The special athletes underwent interactive drills as Sumner and DeRozan taught them basic basketball skills such as dribbling, shooting and passing.
A relay race kicked off the heartwarming event the special athletes dribble from near the baseline to the halfcourt line and back before they were asked to shoot jump shots near the rim.
The special athletes were then asked to form two lines and shoot layups to end the clinic before DeRozan and Sumner gathered the participants at center court.
“Thank you for everyone who came here. We had a lot of fun,” said the 24-year-old DeRozan, who had a breakout season as he led the Raptors back into the NBA Playoffs.
Derozan, the 6-foot-7 swingman, is also fascinated by how passionate Filipinos are about basketball.
“It’s amazing how far basketball has come and has expanded,” DeRozan, who even carried one of the kids to help him dunk a basketball, said.
Later, DeRozan and Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Wes Johnson along with NBA Asia Country Manager Carlo Singson and Toronto Raptors Dance Pak captain Nina Pizans were among the judges at the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest won by David Carlos for the second straight year.
Carlos drew a perfect score from the judges in the final round after he threw down a one-handed tomahawk over two people and a windmill dunk for his finale that even earned him a body bump from DeRozan, one of the best dunkers in the NBA today.
Johnson also expressed his appreciation towards the Filipinos’ enthusiasm for hoops.
“Definitely, I appreciate the love of basketball here,” he said. “We have talent here and if you have that belief in yourself you can do anything.”
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