MANILA -- NBA coach Frank Lopez encouraged coaches to help mold the potential skills of young basketball hopefuls as the 2009-2010 Jr. NBA Program kicked off at the new Jose Rizal University (JRU) gym in Mandaluyong City Saturday.

“We have to motivate our players by defining a common philosophy. We should believe in hardwork. You have to work as hard as you can so that you can play as hard as you can. The need for sending your message across is vital in any sporting goal,” said the Jr. NBA camp clinician from Lakeland, Florida.

Sixty coaches aged 20 to 71 from top UAAP and NCAA schools, private universities, international schools, medical schools, provincial schools and community leagues joined the event. The coaches hailed from the NCR, Southern Luzon and Northern Luzon provinces and as far as Antique.

Coach participants learned how to strengthen their basketball systems in their territories by evaluating their talent pool and learning new defense, offense and fast break strategies at the clinic. They were also given the chance to apply the principles on court.

Ronnie Magsanoc heads the coaching staff of the Jr. NBA presented by Hi-Smart multivitamins along with champion Purefoods coach Ryan Gregorio.

PBA shooting ace Elmer Cabahug, Al Solis and Roel Gomez are their counterparts in Cebu, while Cadel Mosqueda and Eddie Salac are the local Jr. NBA coaches in Davao.

The next coaches' clinic are in Cebu (January 18) and in Davao (January 21) to be followed by tryouts slated later this month and February.

The regional training camps will be held in March while the top eight campers will be picked in April at the National Training Camp.

Seven products of the hoop camp earned a trip to the United States last year and got to watch an NBA game live.

This year, organizers expect a record 300 schools to benefit from the program with around 30,000 students, parents, and coaches. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)