From May 12th to 14th, 74 campers from the 2017 Jr. NBA went through an entirely memorable experience. Besides their intensive days of practice on the hardwood, these campers were able to bond, make new friends to share stories with, and learn from some of their hoop heroes.
Looking back at the action-packed weekend, here are some of the highlights from the Jr. NBA’s National Training Camp.
NBA Store Visit
Their first evening saw a visit to the iconic NBA Store located at the Glorietta Mall, Makati. The shop was filled with eager campers and coaches, all excited to meet Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Sue Wicks, Orlando Magic swingman Elfrid Payton, and Enes Kanter from the Oaklahoma City Thunder.
To add to the excitement, campers Kenji Duremdes and Monique Fetalvero were seleceted to participate in a mini shootout. Little did they know that waiting to be their teammates, was the legend herself, Sue Wicks and Elfrid Payton. It was an overall fun and friendly match which ended in a convincing victory by Team Wicks.
Towards the end, games were held and prizes were given away which kept campers on their toes. And when they got their chance, players and coaches began to ask their basketball idols a barrage of questions – to which they answered with much delight. Wicks, Payton, and Kanter all reminded the campers the importance of good sportsmanship, hardwork, and having fun on the court.
Campers were put to the test for three days straight. Fortunately, they were under the guidance of some of the country’s most influential coaches. Dante Tangco, Chris Luanzon, and Ewon Arayi were only some of the many to pass on skills to the aspiring ballers.
As Tangco expresses, “to be able to impart my knowledge with other kids, it’s really a blast.” It was a great display of passion as each participant endured each session. And as fans of the game, it’s fulfilling to know that the future of Philippine basketball remains in good hands.
All-Star selection day
On the last day of the NTC, participants were gathered at the Mall of Asia Music Hall to play a few more games in hopes of becoming part of the All-Star team. Families, friends, and loved ones from various parts of the country came out to support their household superstars.
Payton and Wicks coached hard-fought scrimmages throughout the afternoon, making adjustments left and right. Meanwhile, other coaches kept a close eye on the action happening. Each camper wanted to exhaust every ounce of talent and skill they had left on the court.
A surprise visit by the legendardy Dikembe Mutombo inspired the many in attendance. To this day, Mutombo serves as the league’s standard for outstanding defense. On top that, he’s one of the most beloved players to ever step on the court. The Hall of Famer’s thrilling speech to his young crowd was followed by his patended ‘finger wag’ before leaving, and it was pure amazement for everybody there.
From 74 campers down to shortlist of 20, excitement began to fill the hearts of each hopeful. And when it finally came down to naming the final cast of All-Stars, a sudden breeze of relief was felt around the venue.
Complete list of Jr. NBA All-Stars: Joachim Laure, Kenji Duremdes, Victorino Torres, Jan Clement Macalalag, Johndel Austria, Ian Dominic Espinosa, Reinhard Jumamoy, Jeryk Dwight Bait, Boni Marylene Solis, Jane Araza, Jeehan Nikaela Ahmed, Jazmine Ann Maniquis, Lindsey Nacional, Camille Nolasco, and Chinnsai Demana.
The Jr. NBA experience isn’t over for the elite 16 players. In six months time, they are set to travel the globe to meet ballers from other countries and learn as much from what basketball can offer.
On the other hand, the rest of the campers leave the Jr. NBA with plenty of memories shared with others. More importantly, a deeper understanding of the game that they can hope to spread in every corner of the nation.