Jr. NBA opens shop anew

Batang Gilas prospect Kai Sotto led the cast of last year's Jr. NBA Philippine All-Stars. Ivan Saldajeno (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--The country's top youth basketball camp series returns for a bigger eighth installment.

The Jr. NBA Philippines 2017 season will tip off on Saturday at the Don Bosco School in Makati, starting another round of a nationwide search for the next basketball sensations.

“Jr. NBA has provided world-class basketball instruction to communities across the country and produced a roster of athletes competing both on the local and international stage,” said NBA Philippines Managing Director Carlo Singson.

“We are proud that Jr. NBA Philippines has established itself as one of the country’s premier youth basketball programs and shaped well-rounded athletes,” said Blen Fernando, the marketing manager of Alaska, the youth basketball camp series' primary sponsor.

The Jr. NBA has helped some young ballers reach where they are right now.

Notable alumni include Kobe Paras, now a freshman at US NCAA powerhouse Creighton, Kiefer Ravena, now part of the NBA D-League side Texas Legends, Ael Banal, the first pick of last year's regular PBA Draft, and Aljon Mariano, who recently got his first PBA title with Ginebra.

After the Makati launch, the Jr. NBA Philippines will have stops in Bacolod, Batangas, Cagayan De Oro, Cavite, Cebu, and Olongapo.

Cagayan De Oro and Cebu will also be the place for the Mindanao and Visayas Regional Camps while Pasay and Lucena will host the two Luzon regionals.

The top 37 male and the top 37 female ballers aged 10-14 who will pass the regional camps will converge in the national selection camp on May 12-14 in Pasay.

The eight boys and the eight girls who will earn the top praises from the guest coaches, an active NBA player and a WNBA legend in the national camp will be named as the Jr. NBA All-Stars and will have a chance to witness an NBA experience overseas.

Also, this year marks the start of an NBA Cares program where some basketball courts will be beautified.

Registration for the Jr. NBA Philippines 2017 is now open at jrnba.asia/philippines.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno