Norris Cole of the New Orleans Pelicans and WNBA Champion Taj McWilliams-Franklin expresses high expectations for the National Training Camp of the Jr NBA/WNBA PH presented by Alaska.
The veteran players will serve as mentors to 50 boys and 25 girls as they all battle for a place at the 2016 Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA All-Stars. The National Training Camp will be held at the Don Bosco Technical Institute April 22-23 and at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall on April 24.
Cole and McWilliams-Franklin will join Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Head Coach Craig Brown to coach the 2016 finalists at the National Training Camp and will also serve as coaches for the annual Jr. NBA Alumni All-Star Game featuring past Jr. NBA standouts. This year’s program has reached a record 20,000 players and coaches across the country.
“I’ve heard basketball is a way of life in the Philippines, and I look forward to experiencing this passion during my first visit to the country,” said Cole. “I am also eager to work with the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA participants and to share the importance of a winning attitude on and off the court.”
“It feels great knowing how much boys and girls in the Philippines appreciate basketball,” said McWilliams-Franklin. “I’m excited to share my time on and off the court and inspire more children to play the game.”
Cole, who was drafted 28th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, won two NBA championships with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013. He averaged 10.6 points, 3.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game with the Pelicans this season.
Other than a stellar NBA career, Cole also has the distinction of graduated university with honors. In an interview, Cole credits the upbringing given by his parents as source of his drive and determination to succeed both in and out the court, “In our house, with my parents – it’s not a choice between basketball or having my education. It’s trying to do both. I am passionate about both so I did my best to succeed on both fields. It’s not easy – you have to be passionate and you have to be determined and I am lucky to be able to do both.”
McWilliams-Franklin, a two-time WNBA champion and six-time WNBA All-Star, was selected 32nd overall in the 1999 WNBA Draft. McWilliams-Franklin spent 14 seasons in the WNBA, playing for the Orlando Miracle, Connecticut Sun, Los Angeles Sparks, Washington Mystics, Detroit Shock, New York Liberty and Minnesota Lynx.
McWilliams-Franklin also credit her passion for basketball as the reason why she was able to successfully balance an amazing basketball career and motherhood (she has 3 kids). “It’s a conscious effort to do great for both. I don’t want to choose between basketball and raising a family so I have to do both – and do both very well.”
The Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Philippines 2016 presented by Alaska culminates with the National Training Camp, which provides the top 50 boys and top 24 girls with the opportunity to train with and compete against their peers. The finalists were selected from Regional Selection Camp participants from Baguio, Cebu, Davao and Manila.
At the end of the National Training Camp, 10 boys and five girls will be selected as Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA All-Stars and will travel on an overseas NBA experience trip together with fellow Jr. NBA All-Stars from Southeast Asia. The program will also feature the selections of the 2016 Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA Coaches of the Year, who will join the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA All-Stars on the experience trip.
Photo credits: all photos are from the Jr NBA/WNBA Facebook page