“Welcome to the Philippines, where the men are five foot five, the everyman’s Air Jordans are a pair of flip-flops, and the rhythm of life is punctuated by the bouncing of a basketball”– Rafe Bartholomew, Pacific Rims
When NBA legend Gilbert Arenas visited the Philippines in 2008 as part of a promotional tour for a brand he endorses, he couldn’t believe the reception given to him by enthusiastic Filipinos. Aside from the reception fit for Obama, Arenas couldn’t believe the dedication and the enthusiasm of Filipinos to a game that often times call for height. What the Filipinos lack in height, he deduced, they made up with passion – where kids construct make shift half-courts in the middle of a depressed community, attempting slam dunks on flip-flops. (Source)
To say that the Philippines loves NBA-basketball in general- is a gross undestatement.
Puso (heart) is what makes every Filipino seven feet tall in the world of basketball. In Manila, where boys (and even girls) aged as early as 10 begin weaving their hoopster dreams, there is a brand that makes THE difference in making these dreams a reality.
Alaska, the number one milk brand in the Philippines, has been a partner of the NBA for nine years in keeping basketball dreams alive for Filipino youngsters. Through the auspices and support of Alaska, NBA was able to reach more and more kids who dreams of playing for the PBA (and even the NBA, who knows?). Now in its ninth year, the Jr NBA/Jr WNBA Program is offered for free to boys and girls from 10 years old to 14 years old. The program will run from January 23 to April 24.
Basketball trains kids to be “Winners for Life”
This blogger was recently invited by Alaska to witness the tip off event for the 2016 Jr NBA/ Jr WNBA season along with other members of the media in an event held recently at Don Bosco Makati. (See my previous post here)
In the morning, a basketball clinic for coaches was conducted by Jr NBA coach Craig Brown where local basketball coaches were given the opportunity to learn game strategies from the NBA legend. Taking down notes and pointers for an NBA-styled play, local coaches were given fresh ideas on upping the ante on Pinoy street-style basketball.
The coaching clinic is just one of the key programs under the Jr NBA clinic where aspiring young hoopsters from all over the country will be given the opportunity to be part of the basketball clinic, first in a local level then onward to the regional clinics until the national levels where a ten boys and five girls will be given the chance to see an NBA game live.
For local kids whose entry into adulthood is ushered via their involvement in neighborhood basketball competitions and who follows NBA like a local teleserye seeing your idols play live is already akin to the Holy Grail.
Serving as coaches for this year include Brown, Jr NBA stalwart Chris Sumner while Jeffrey Cariaso serves as the local coach.
The highlight of the day was the formal opening of this year’s clinic where business leaders lent their support for the program. Leading the notable names were NBA Philippines managing director Carlo Singson and Alaska managing director Blen Fernando. These two brands have been working together form the last six years in molding young athletes to be hard working, disciplined, confident and better individuals.