CEBU CITY - If Mark Jayven Tallo of the CIT Wild Kittens, Arc Gabrielle Araw-Araw and Adrian Marvin Roland Muller of the Sacred Heart School of the Society of Jesus made it to the Magic Six of the 2008-09 Jr. NBA Philippines Program last year, which 12-14-year-old kids will again place Cebu in the world basketball map this year?

Fifty-three kids vowed to follow in the footsteps of last year’s illustrious trio as they all showed up early to register for the school tryouts at the Sacred Heart School campus in Man-daue City yesterday.

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The 2009-10 Jr. NBA Philippines Program has brought in coach Frank Lopez, US Jr. NBA Camp clinician and program director of various NBA teams, to personally conduct the tryouts. Kids from 7 to 15 years old learned drills and fundamentals straight from the master, who has been involved in the Jr. NBA program since its inception.

Aspirants

Nine of the participants were part of the Top 20 in last year’s Regional Selection Camp held at the old Sacred Heart campus in January last year. Bradley Bacaltos, Mike Spencer Patalinghug, Jomari Dinsay, Reggie Abu, Patrick Nigel Go and Noel Villaseran all came back, as did Muller and Araw-Araw. “We just want to undergo the Jr. NBA experience again,” said Araw-Araw.

Coach Frank introduced the kids to a new Jr. NBA experience this year, the Jr. NBA Skills Stations. They consist of the Hi-Smart Lay-Up Station where participants should make as many lay-ups as possible within 45 seconds; the Gatorade Shooting Station where the objective is to make as many of the total 10 baskets within a minute; the Basketball TV Passing Station where one should make as many of the total 25 passes, including bonus passes—given a 10-second limit per set of passes; the Hi-Smart Dribbling Station where one must complete the course as quickly as possible, while maintaining control of the ball; and the Mitsubishi Footwork Station where players make defensive slides around a designated area.

“We learn something new every time,” said Muller who, like Araw-Araw, has enrolled his younger brother into the program.

“Coach Frank is a jolly and amazing basketball teacher. What we learned from the Jr. NBA Program has made us leaders in our teams.”

Clinic first

Yesterday’s tryouts were preceded by a coaches clinic at the Cebu City Sports Center, triggering off the three-month NBA youth basketball development program that will train and identify talents among 12 to 14 year olds across the country.

The coaches’ clinics and tryouts will be followed by regional selection camps and a national training camp in April. From Cebu, the Program moves to Davao where local coaches and young players will undergo the same experience on Jan. 21 and 22.

Manila tryout

Manila kids, meanwhile, will have school tryouts from Jan. 28 to 31 and Feb. 5. Open Clinics for Jr. NBA hopefuls and basketball fans of all ages will be held at selected SM Malls in Metro Manila for three weekends in February.

The Jr. NBA returns to Cebu on March 7 for the Regional Selection Camp at the new Sacred Heart campus from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All 12- to 14-year-old boys in Cebu City and surrounding areas are invited to join. They can just register on site and bring their birth certificates. (PR)