On the 23rd of January, boys and girls ages 10-14 gathered for the tip-off of one of the country’s most successful youth development programs – the 2016 Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA. Now on it’s 9th year, the program has grown bigger and better, expanding to more cities and touching hundreds of thousands of lives.
Present at this year’s event were several Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA alumni, including 2011 Jr. NBA All-Star Miguel Competente and 2012 Jr. NBA All-Star Janjan Jaboneta. PlayPH spoke with both about their experiences and how the program helped them to become who they are today.
“On my first try, I was able to make it to the National Training Camp but unfortunately, I didn’t get in the top-20,” said Competente. “I joined again the next year in Cebu, worked really hard and started believing in myself, which really helped me a lot to be selected as one of the top-10.”
Where Competente picked up the value of believing in one’s self, Jaboneta learned that it took hard work to stand out from his thousands of hopeful peers, especially when it came to those from other provinces.
“Before, whenever I heard about a player from Manila, I automatically had huge respect for them,” said Jaboneta. “When I got to play with them, I realized I could hold my own. For me as a player from the province, I just wanted to give my best for them to see that we can also play at a high level. When I joined the program in Cagayan, so many people came from other places like Davao, Cebu, and other cities in Visayas…You really needed to come early if you wanted the coaches to take notice.”
Today, both Jaboneta, now playing for the UP Fighting Maroons, and Competente, who suited up for Ateneo De Davao, are both playing like young men on a mission – a mission to pursue their basketball dreams and inspire others with their game. They may have different stories of how they began to fall in love with basketball, but nevertheless, it was their passion that led them to cross paths at the Jr. NBA. As they travel the long and winding path towards their dreams, but Jaboneta’s and Competente’s stories showed that the road to getting there is comprised of hard work, faith, and most of all, heart.