Unleashing the Champions: The 2016 Jr. NBA – WNBA Philippines All Star Team


From thousands of male and female young cagers 10 to 14 years old, 50 boys and 24 girls have secured their slot at the the 2016 Jr. NBA – WNBA Philippines presented by Alaska National Training Camp held at Don Bosco Technical Institute, Makati, on April 23 – 24, and culminated at SM Mall of Asia Arena Music Hall on April 24, 2016.

All 74 of them went through a series of rigid training to master the fundamental skills of basketball handling from dribbling to passing, left hand and right hand lay up, shooting and getting better in their footwork under the guidance of Jr. NBA – WNBA Philippines coaches. Team scrimmages were incorporated in their daily training routines to put their skills into action.

I have shortlisted 11 campers whom I believe will make it to Top 20. Nine of them made it to Top 20. After the final scrimmage, four of them made it to the elite roster of 2016 Jr. NBA Philippines All Star Team.

To further enhance their exposure in the team sport, the participants were bundled into six groups named after NBA Teams – Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, LA Lakers, Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic. And like the Marauder’s Map in the Harry Potter movie, the groupings allowed the coaches to see more of the participants as they revealed themselves which as spelled out by the program’s STAR values – Sportsmanship, Teamwork, A positive Attitude and Respect.

During the three-day camp, the participants are so privileged as 2-time WNBA Champion and 6-time WNBA All Star Taj McWilliams – Franklin and 2011 NBA Draft 28th overall pick Norris Cole of New Orleans Pelicans join the coaching of the three-day camp. These champions were hands-on in their coaching as they were seen correcting a player’s stance or form at any time during the drills.

The morning of April 24th was a bit emotional when Coach Craig announced the top 20 boys who will advance to play for the final scrimmage, taking them a step closer to their goal.

I’m not that good in the sport, but having covered the Jr. NBA Philippines program since 2013, I have somehow developed an eye as to who has the “game”. Hence, I have shortlisted 11 campers from the boys who will make the cut in the top 20. Out of 11, nine of them have made it.

The Champions

They played with their hearts. They played their best. They showed what a champion should be. Their excellent skills have loudly spoken. They wowed the crowed with their performance on court. And they impressed the coaches even more off court! Now, it can be told.

From a pool of 50 boys and 24 girls, ten boys and five girls have been named the 2016 Jr. NBA Philippines and Jr. WNBA Philippines All Stars, respectively, at the conclusion of the three-day 2016 Jr. NBA – WNBA presented by Alaska National Training Camp held at SM Mall of Asia Music Hall on April 24, 2016.

Whilst I feel a bit sad for those I was rooting for who didn’t make it, I’d like to congratulate the five girls and ten boys who rightfully deserved a spot in the All Star team. And four from my shortlisted campers made it to this elite roster. Here they are…

2016 Jr. NBA-WNBA All Stars and Coaches of the Year with Ms. Blen Fernando, Mr. Carlo Singson, Coach Jeff Cariaso, Coach Craig Brown, WNBA Legend Taj McWilliams-Franklin, NBA Star Norris Cole and E-Cow.

2016 Jr. NBA-WNBA All Stars and Coaches of the Year with Ms. Blen Fernando, Mr. Carlo Singson, Coach Jeff Cariaso, Coach Craig Brown, WNBA Legend Taj McWilliams-Franklin, NBA Star Norris Cole and E-Cow.

Top 5 Jr. WNBA Philippine All Stars

1.Darlene Regasio (Cebu)
2.Florence Jill Talas (Cebu)
3.Ma. Cecilia Quilendrino (Manila)
4.Rozie Amatong (Davao)
5.Aloha Marie Betanio (Davao).

Top 10 Jr. NBA Philippine All Stars

1.Julian Alfonso Hugo (Alaska Power Camp)
2.Fritz Felix Valencia (Bacolod)
3.Harold Alarcon (Bacolod)
4.Isaiah Miguel Blanco (Alaska Power Camp)
5.Ric Ozner Gatuz (Baguio)
6.Andrei Philip Lechoncito (Manila)
7.Tracy Carl Dadang (Cebu)
8.Jearico Nunez (Manila)
9.Miguel Rey Luis Tan (Manila)
10.Kai Zachary Sotto (Manila)

Special Awards were also given to the participants who excelled during the camp.
  • Jr. WNBA Philippines Rising Star: Carly Monreal (RSC Manila)
    Jr. NBA Philippines Rising Star: Victorino III Torres (Alaska Power Camp)
  • Jr. WNBA Philippines Hustle Award: Kate Buenaventura (RSC Davao)
    Jr. NBA Philippines Hustle Award: Jericho Ross Paglinawan (RSC Manila)
  • Jr. WNBA Philippines All Star Player of the Game: Aloha Marie Betanio (RSC Davao)
    Jr. NBA Philippines All Star Player of the Game: Tracy Carl Dadang (RSC Cebu)
  • Jr. WNBA Philippines Sportsmanship Award: Imee Claire Matas (RSC Davao)
    Jr. NBA Philippines Sportsmaship Award: Alfonso Candari (RSC Davao)
  • Jr. WNBA Philippines Alaska Ambassador: Rozie Amatong (RSC Davao)
    Jr. NBA Philippines Alaska Ambassador: Julian Alfonso Hugo (Alaska Power Camp)
  • Jr. WNBA Philippines MVP: Florence Jill Talas (RSC Cebu)
    Jr. NBA Philippines MVP: Kai Zachary Sotto (RSC Manila)
  • Jr. WNBA Coach of the Year: Arayi Ewon, Magis Academy (Pasig City)
    Jr. NBA Coach of the Year: Eligino Chollo, Ateneo de Davao University (College Unit)
A Parent’s Insights
Jr. NBA Philippines All Star with (from left) Mom Betty Tan, Dad Ryan Tan and Grandmother Susan Tan.

Jr. NBA Philippines All Star with (from left) Mom Betty Tan, Dad Ryan Tan and Grandmother Susan Tan.

Parents play a very vital role on the success of the child. And how does the support come from them? Mrs. Betty Tan, mom to Jr. NBA Philippines All Star Miguel Tan, shares that “my husband and I share the load. I do the motivation part, he does the technical part. Whenever he teaches Miguel anything and everything about the basics and the foundations of basketball, I tell him “You have to do your part and work hard.”

“We’re so happy because in four year’s time since he started playing basketball, he has gone a long way,” she added.

Asked if there’s an agreement that Miguel needs to excel in academics so he can play basketball, Mrs. Tan replied that there’s no pressure coming from them. “What we tell him to do is do his best. We advise him that if there are breaks during class hours, he will do his assignments and he will study because he doesn’t have much time anymore. And he has games on weekends.”

“Being a student athlete is very hard. You have to juggle a lot of things. He has school. His practice is everyday until 7pm. Xavier School is very strict when it comes to that one. You cannot be a varsity if you have failing grades. So, he has to make use of the free time he has during school hours.”

“Yeah, there’s an understanding between him and us that he needs to balance well in school and in sports.”

On nutrition, surprisingly, “Miguel does drink Alaska, but the Slim one. His diet includes more protein and less carbohydrate,” Mrs. Tan revealed.

Words from Jr. NBA-WNBA Coaches

Just for making it to the National Training Camp makes any participant a champion in his own right because not everyone has the opportunity to be part of it. The invaluable experience and lessons learned are something that no one can take away from them. It’s up to them to make use of the skills they acquired to become better players and individuals.

Before wrapping up the three-day camp, Jr. NBA – WNBA Head Coach Craig Brown addressed all the participants of the 2016 Jr. NBA – WNBA National Training Camp.

“It’s great to see you that you have selected to participate in the NTC this weekend. You all are winners. Out of the numbers of participants who participated in the Jr. NBA, to see yourselves here, you should be very very proud of what you have accomplished,” said Coach Craig.

Two-time WNBA Champion and 6-time WNBA All Star Taj McWilliams -Franklin joined this year’s program as one of the coaches. Albeit brief, certainly, there’s so much that the participants have learned from her as she was a very hands on coach. And she had a very heart-warming message to all the young cagers in the league.

Two-time WNBA Champion and 6-time WNBA All Star Taj McWilliams -Franklin was very hands-on as a coach. Here, she's leading the morning warm up during the National Training Camp.

Two-time WNBA Champion and 6-time WNBA All Star Taj McWilliams -Franklin was very hands-on as a coach. Here, she’s leading the morning warm up during the National Training Camp.

“I had an amazing time with you young men and women, and I hope there’s something, at least one thing that I said or did, makes you continue on this journey and that’s what basketball is. It’s a great journey.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, no matter what happens, this isn’t the end of the journey. It is the beginning of something great within your lives whether you get picked or not, always remember this time. Keep it with you and let it push you to greatness. There is nothing greater than failing. Failure pushes you to be the best you can be. Take this as a learning opportunity.”

“And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to spend this weekend with you.”

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My warmest CONGRATULATIONS to all the young boys and girls who have become part of the 2016 season of Jr. NBA – WNBA Philippines presented by Alaska.

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