After four months of training and eliminations, the 2016 Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA Philippines named 10 boys and 5 girls to this year’s All-Star team – the crème de la crème of more than 20,000 young athletes from all over the country.
The 10 boys who topped the rest of their competition are, Harold Alarcon, Isaiah Miguel Blanco, Tracy Carl Dadang, Ric Ozner Gatuz, Julian Alfonso Jugo, Andrei Philip Lechoncito, Jearic Nuñez, Miguel Roy Luis Tan, Fritz Felix Valencia, and the 6-foot-9 13-year old Kai Zachary Sotto, who is named this year’s Jr. NBA MVP.
The 5 Jr. WNBA All-Stars are, Rozie Amatong, Aloha Marie Betanio, Ma. Cecilia Quilenderino, Darlene Regasajo, and the 2016 Jr. WNBA MVP Florence Jill Talas.
From the Regional Camps that launched in January to last week’s National Training Camps, the country’s longest-running youth sports development program travelled from city to city in search of young talents who possessed more than skill, but also the values of an All-Star.
“An All-Star should have S.T.A.R. values (Sportsmanship, Teamwork, positive Attitude, and Respect),” shared 2016 Jr. NBA All-Star Fritz Valencia in an exclusive interview with PlayPH when asked about the secret to his success. “You also have to constantly give your best.”
2016 Jr. NBA All-Star Fritz Valencia shared with PlayPH the importance of the values he learned from the program.
Prior to the announcement of this year’s All-Stars on April 24, the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA Alumni had an exhibition game at the Mall of Asia Music Hall coached by none other than the program’s special guests, 2-time NBA Champion Norris Cole and WNBA legend Taj McWilliams-Franklin. Both Cole and McWilliams-Franklin had been with the camp’s finalists for 3 days, sharing their knowledge and actively participating in their training.
“It was super fun,” shared 2014 Jr. NBA Alumni Sam Josef Belangel on his experience playing with the program’s alumni. “You really miss these kind of moments and seeing all the other alumni, our kuyas, we all had so much fun! Even if our team lost, it was okay. At least, we were able to see each other again.”
As an alumni of the program, 2014 Jr. NBA All-Star SJ Belangel always enjoy coming back to the program to share his knowledge and play together with his fellow Jr. NBA players.
Now that the National Training Camps have ended, the recently named All-Stars have one more thing to look forward to – the ultimate NBA Experience, the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA’s culminating event. The All-Stars, together with this year’s Coaches of the Year Ewon Arayi and Cholo Elegino, will travel to Beijing, China later this year to meet and train with their Southeast Asian counterparts and watch the NBA Global Games.
For four months, this year’s All-Stars proved that they are deserving to be in the spotlight and from here on out, they journey together, carrying with them the skills, values, and bonds they formed from their time together.
The Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA program has done more than teach the fundamentals and values that are needed for young athletes to grow as players and individuals since it was launched in the Philippines 9 years ago – it became the venue where athletes from different walks of life, from different parts of the world, can journey together as one family towards making their basketball dreams come true.