Last week, the 2015 Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA All-Stars traveled to China for the culminating activity of this year’s developmental program. Now on its 8th annual edition in the Philippines, the program held its biggest-ever search earlier this year to seek out and nurture the best basketballers aged 10-14 the country had to offer. Of the thousands that participated, ten boys and five girls were named this year’s All-stars, not only for their skills on the court, but because of their STAR (Sportsmanship, Teamwork, positive Attitude, Respect) qualities.
In China, the young athletes would take part in the ultimate NBA experience. Joined by their counterparts from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and China, the All-Stars participated in an intercultural exchange built around a mutual love of basketball. Adding to the excitement was the opportunity to watch the first-ever NBA Global Game between the LA Clippers and Charlotte Hornets, an event attended by NBA legends Yao Ming and His Airness himself, Michael Jordan.
All told, the China trip represented a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. But how did these All-Stars, these kids, get to this point?
Unlike professional athletes who devote their entire lives to training, student athletes must balance their sports with school. Fortunately, as these All-Stars have learned, the qualities of discipline, hard work and sportsmanship that serve them so well on the court are the very values that have enabled them to achieve their dreams.
“Hindi po kasi basta-bastang sports ang basketball,” Jr. WNBA All-star and Alaska Youth Ambassador Kyla Flores told playPH. “May mga attitude ka na madedevelop tulad ng hard work and discipline na nakakatulong sa lahat ng aspect ng life ng isang tao.”
Regardless of their reasons for playing, the All-Stars playPH spoke with all agreed that basketball has given them something beyond a sport that they can enjoy – it has helped them become better people on and off the court.
Young athletes with big dreams – the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA All-Stars showed everyone that nothing is impossible if you dedicate yourself to making it happen. The NBA experience may very well be one of the highlights of their lives, and they can be proud of the fact that it was their hard work that got them there.