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Six Boys and Two Girls Chosen to represent North Luzon in the Jr NBA/Jr WNBA Presented by Alaska in the National Training Camp this April

I was weaned on basketball since I was five years old. And watching it has been our family bonding time since then and even up to now. When I was eight I told my father I wanted to join the basketball clinic when we had our vacation in Manila during the summers. But it was unheard of for girls to join such clinic then and I was really envious of my cousin. I just content myself in watching and knowing all about basketball. And my father consoled me by watching live games every week that summer.

Kids nowadays are so lucky that a big company such as Alaska have lofty program that shape, train, challenge and inspire children to achieve their dreams and aspirations in life with their Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA program.

Mr. Blen Fernando, Marketing Director of Alaska aptly said what this program is all about, “These holistic programs train children to be confident, disciplined and hardworking because Alaska Milk Corporation aims to prepare them to be winners in life in the future."

Last weekend, we were in Baguio to cover the Regional Selection Camp of Jr NBA/Jr. WNBA Presented by Alaska for North Luzon. Seeing all those hopeful kids with dreams in their eyes partly reminds me of my dream when I was younger than them.

We were there as we watched those 667 boys and girls excelled in the skills stations and scrimmages and exemplified the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA core S.T.A.R. values of Sportsmanship, Teamwork, a positive Attitude and Respect throughout the camp.

The Jr. NBA committee headed by Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Coach Craig Brown evaluated the regional finalists. But in the end only six boys and two girls where chosen during those two days. And Im sure that during those two days, most of them have reinforced their basketball skills with THOSE awesome coaches present during the camp  and in some way have  build character that will make them winners for life. This special weekend incorporates all of this.

During those days I was able to interview three mothers who were there to cheer on and support their child; a mother who whose child did not pass the first day, a mother whose child is a finalist but did not make the eight cagers who will go to Manila for the National Training Camp and a mother whose child is one of the two girls who made it.

Mrs. Gemma Mayor’s 11 year old son John Paul is short for his age. At 11 years old he stands only 4’8 but John Paul was fast. He can handle the ball well and in every skills station he was quite good, it just so happen that a lot of good kids were ahed of him. It was also John Paul’s second time to join the RSC and undaunted by not making it to the finals he promise to be back next year. And Mrs. Gemma wholeheartedly supports her child. She also enjoyed the camp and happy for her son who never loses hope that some day he will make it. After all he is only 11 years old, she said. She is also happy that despite his short height the RSC has given her son the confidence to handle peer pressure and difficult situations, not only on the courts, but off the courts.

Daniel Esgana have been joing the Jr NBA/Jr WNBA presented by Alaska for two years now. And his mom, Rizza Esgana has been accompanying him since then. His father work is quite far so it’s only his mother who was with him during the camp. When I interviewed him last Sunday, he was quite happy again that he made it again as finalist and he said that he will do his best to be chosen so that he could be part of the Manila Team.

Daniel is a varsity player in his school the City High in Baguio. He also joins summer league basketball in his neighborhood and last year he was part of the Mythical Five and was also the league’s MVP. His love for basketball started when he was in Grade 4. He said that if he can’t make it this year, next year will be his last to join the RSC. He said that the competition were so tough this year.

Mommy Rizza is ever supportive of Daniel and she was happy that it was basketball that her son has taken a liking to. She said that it has developed so much as the years goes on. Her only wish is that Daniel could finally make and be part of the team of cagers that will compete in Manila. May be next year, she said.

I’ve been watching Rae Jemima Caba since Saturday. I love how she handles the ball well and how good she was during the scrimmage. I hardly know that it was also her second year this RSC. Shyly quiet, she would just smile at you during the interview. She only loses her shyness when I asked her what is her favorite PBA team and she said Ginebra. This Marc Caguioa fan become so alive when she is in the basketball court andshe can hustle really well.

When the time when the winners will be announced by Coach Brown, I saw Rae’s mother Mrs. Jean slightly moved in the sideline. She was quite nervous and was holding on to her youngest daughter. I got near her and asked where her husband is. I just saw him minutes ago. But then Coach Brown announced Rae Jemina’s name and we simultaneously cheered on with her family.

Mrs. Jean told me how happy she was thatRae made it this time. She said that last year Rae was only a reserved.  I saw that the coaches were also happy that Rae made it this time, proof that Rae hascome far and we will see how far she has really come as she compete for the National Camp on May.

It was a very rewarding weekend and I say  my congratulations to these eight derving boys and girls - Jan Zyrus de Ayre, of Berkeley School, 14; Ric Ozner Joshua Gatuz of Cherished Moments School, 13; Vincent Mabiwo of University of Cordilleras, 13; Emmanuel James Macaranasn of Bayambang National High School, 13; Sergz Quitaleg of St. Louis University – Laboratory High School, 14; and Wrench Mason Roquid of University of Perpetual Help System- Laguna, 13 ruled the boys division while Katreena Areola, 13, also from Berkeley School; and Rae Jemima Caba, 13, of St. Louis University – Laboratory Elementary School.

They will represent North Luzon to the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Philippines National Training Camp this April.

The Jr.NBA and Jr.WNBA presented by Alaska is under Alaska Milk’s Nutrition.Action.Champion program. It helps address the issue of overweight and undernourished Filipino children with the promotion of proper nutrition and active lifestyle through sports and outdoor play.


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