The Junior National Basketball Association (Jr. NBA) Philippines 2018 fired off on Saturday at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati City.
The Alaska Milk-backed hoops program is seeking to reach more than 250,000 basketball players and 900 coaches across the country including the provinces of Benguet, Batangas, Negros Occidental and Agusan Del Norte.
“Last year, the program was bigger than ever before. We are looking forward to continuing that growth this year,” said NBA Philippines Managing Director Carlo Singson.
Jr. NBA, now on its 11th straight year, remains free for boys and girls ages 10 to 14 years old. Participants will undergo skills clinics and the promising players get selected to join training camps.
Regional selection camps will be held in Bacolod City (February 10 to 11), Butuan City (February 24-25), Baguio City (March 17-18) and Metro Manila (April 21-22), with the top 37 boys and girls advancing to the National Training Camp in Manila (May 18-20).
Eight Jr. NBA All-Stars each from two divisions will be chosen to play with fellow young cagers from Southeast Asia overseas. Last year, the program culminated in Shanghai, China.
Alaska managing director Marco Bertacca said that they aim to encourage children to have an active lifestyle during the duration of the four-month program.
“This program is about getting the kids away from the sofa, television and phones. This is about getting them outside and play. That’s what we are here for,” said Bertacca.
Current University of the Philippines standout Jan Jaboneta, who was a Jr. NBA alumnus, related how the program gave him a solid foundational training.
“I joined Jr. NBA because I want show the talent of the players from the provinces and that we can compete with the players from Manila,” said the six-footer Cebuano guard in Filipino.
Besides Jaboneta, other notable Jr. NBA alumni are current Philippine Basketball Association players Aljon Mariano and Kiefer Ravena along with collegiate stars Kobe Paras, Thirdy Ravena, Ricci Rivero and Aljun Melecio as well as high school stalwart Kai Sotto.
The Jr. NBA is the American league’s global youth participation program that focuses on teaching the fundamental skills and core values of basketball. Coaches and participants can now register by visiting the program’s website.