Jr. NBA coach Frank Lopez explains to coach participants the value of working a common philosophy for a champion team. (Contributed photo)

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 hard work. 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.

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Sixty coaches aged 20 to 71 from top University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) schools, private universities, international schools, medical schools, provincial schools and community leagues joined the event.

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The coaches hailed from the National Capital Region, Southern Luzon and Northern Luzon provinces and as far as Antique in the Visayas.

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.

“Coaches play an important part in this program because they are the ones who will drive it in their respective communities and schools. They are the vital link that will keep the players, their parents and school officials on the same page in the program,” Coach Frank said.

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

Cebu’s top coaches and also PBA Legends Elmer “Boy” Cabahug and Al Solis of the University of Visayas (UV) Green Lancers and Roehl Gomez of the University of Cebu (UC) Webmasters have joined the coaching staff for the January 18 meet, which will culminate the following day for the tryouts at the Sacred Heart Academy.

Next stop on January 21 is Davao with ex-PBA and MBA player-turned coach Cadel Mosqueda joining the coaching staff. Tryouts will be held at the Holy Child School the next day.

Manila will have its NBA Open Clinics in February while tryouts are also set at the British International School on January 28, Our Lady of Perpetual Succor on January 29, Concepcion Elementary School and Sta. Elena Elementary School on January 30, the Ateneo De Manila Grade School on January 31 and San Sebastian College on February 5.

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

Local coaches who joined the Program pose for posterity with Coach Frank Lopez, Jr. NBA-appointed coaches and partners. (Contributed photo)

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

The program has produced big names such as Kiefer Ravena, Ael Banal and Al Bugarin of the Ateneo Blue Eaglets; Nikko Montelibano of La Salle Greenhills; Erlance Feliciano and Aljon Mariano of the San Beda Red Cubs.

Saved for Bugarin, the five players from the first batch in 2007 are now key members of the RP Youth Team of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).

Interested coaches and players aged 12 to 14 can register online at www.nba.com/jrnba/philippines, or just show up on any of the school tryouts or open clinics.

This year, organizers expect a record 300 schools to benefit from the program with around 30,000 students, parents and coaches. This is a huge improvement from its debut in 2007 where 16 schools participated in the annual basketball clinic. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)