MANILA, Philippines – Seven years since first launching in 2007, the Jr. NBA presented by Alaska is back once again in the Philippines.
The Jr. NBA tipped off Saturday, January 18 with a Coaches Clinic at the British School in Taguig City, where 294 coaches attended. The first School Clinic of the season, on the other hand, started on Sunday, January 19 also at the British School.
An international youth development program by the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Jr. NBA utilizes the sport of basketball to promote participation, sportsmanship, teamwork, and an active lifestyle among children.
The basketball program will be conducted by renowned local coaches and former professional players from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), led by coach Jojo Lastimosa, along with coaches and former players from the PBA. It targets children between the ages 10 and 14 years old and remains completely free.
For 2014, presenting partner Alaska Milk intends to reach out to more than a thousand schools around the Philippines. They will be making stops in key cities starting in Manila and will move on to Cebu, Puerto Princesa and Dagupan City, including first-time stops in Surigao and Iloilo City.
“One of the most important thrusts of Alaska Milk Corporation is really to provide a wholistic development for a child,” said Blen Fernando, Vice President for Marketing for Alaska Milk Corporation.
She elaborates the three important aspects that help unlock and develop a child’s potential, which is what they hope to achieve with the Jr. NBA program.
“It’s 3-pronged. One is you should have a healthy diet. It’s not about eating whatever, it’s about eating the proper food. The second aspect that we want to impart to the youth is to have an active lifestyle. No matter how healthy your food or diet is you still need to be active. The third part is we believe we need to inculcate positive values in a child. Those are the S.T.A.R values – Sportsmanship, Teamwork, Attitude and Respect.”
Through the basketball clinics, Alaska and the NBA wish to impart to the developing minds of the youth that winning is not everything.
“It’s not just about being number one or the only winner, it’s about participating,” Fernando said. “In the camps, you’re not only taught fundamental skills in basketball, the more important part is you’re taught the values and having a nutritious and healthy lifestyle.”
Jr. NBA now includes females
Aside from reaching out to more kids in more schools and areas in the Philippines, the Jr. NBA basketball clinic is expanding to include the Jr. WNBA, a new program introduced exclusively for girls.
“This year, both girl and boy players will get the opportunity to participate in school clinics and selection camps in numerous venues across the country,” said Wilfred Uytengsu, President and CEO of Alaska Milk Corporation. “We look forward to our largest and most successful program yet.”
Fernando also added that they’re expanding the program’s reach for 2014.
“Last year we hit 700 [schools]. For this year we’re targeting over a thousand schools,” she said.
Fernando also added that Alaska Milk and the NBA plan on specifically targeting public schools with grassroots programs.
“We will try to also do special grassroots camps involving the public schools, that’s really more of an advocacy program. It’s our way of giving back together with the NBA.”
The 2014 Philippine schedule includes school clinics as well as coaching seminars in the lead up to Regional Selection Camps in each of the cities, which will happen in March and April. It will conclude in Metro Manila where the top 50 boys and top 24 girls from all over the country will participate in the National Training Camp from April 25 to 27.
At the end of that camp, 10 Jr. NBA and 4 Jr. WNBA All-Stars will be selected and will be given a unique NBA experience and the opportunity to play against a counterpart team from another country towards the end of year.
“They will have an NBA experience in October, they will go out of the country,” Fernando said.
Last year’s All-Stars got to meet Kobe Bryant personally. Though Fernando says they can’t promise the same for this year. What she is certain of, however, is they will have a one-of-a-kind experience abroad with other kids.
“It’s always out of the country and they will learn about the culture and people there.”
Apart from kids, basketball coaches will also benefit from the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA programs.
There will also be a search for the 2014 Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA Coach of the Year that runs during the same time as the children’s basketball program.
NBA Asia’s Senior Director of Basketball, Sefu Bernard, will serve as the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Camp Director and oversee the Coach of the Year Operations program, along with local coaches selected by the NBA and coaches of the Alaska Power Camp led by Lastimosa.
Ten finalists for the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA Coach of the Year will be selected to participate in the National Training Camp under Jr. NBA Coaches to enhance their coaching skills. The winners will also be announced at the National Training Camp as well.
The Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA is presented by Alaska Milk with Gatorade and Phoenix Petroleum as official partners. KFC and Spalding are supporting partners. The SM Mall of Asia and SM Cinemas serve as the official venues, while official broadcasters are Basketball TV, NBA Premium TV and ABS-CBN Sports. – Rappler.com