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Collin and Ticha.

AFTER four months, Jr. NBA Philippines 2019 presented by Alaska has reached its peak moment: the National Training Camp where the newest batch of Jr. NBA All-Stars will be selected. The new finds from among talented 10 to 14 year old boys and girls from all over the country will follow the footsteps of illustrious previous All-Stars that include Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Aljon Mariano, Kobe Paras, Ricci Rivero, Kib Montalbo, Aljun Melecio and Kai Sotto, among others.

The 2019 all-free grassroots development program of the National Basketball Association tipped off in early February and reached out to boy and girl ballers in North Luzon, South Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and the National Capitalist Region, identifying the outstanding players in those areas. This weekend, the best from the regions will compete with each other and those selected from the Alaska Power Camp for the honor of being hailed as the new All-Stars.

On Sunday, May 19, as many as five boys and five girls will enjoy a perk and honor no other batch has yet experienced before. For the first time in the history of the Jr. NBA program, the 2019 All-Stars will compete in the first Jr. NBA Global Championship Asia Pacific Selection Camp, a weeklong camp where they will face top youth players from North Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific region in June.

The Asia Pacific regional competition will provide the 2019 batch of Jr. NBA All-Stars the opportunity to represent the region in the Jr. NBA Global Championship that will be held from August 6 to 11 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida. The international event will feature talented youth from the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, China, Mexico, Africa, India and the Asia-Pacific.

Every year since 2010, the National Training Camp has been graced by the presence of NBA talents who join the Jr. NBA coaching staff in training and selecting the top 5 boys and five girls from the 80 finalists who will be named 2019 Jr. NBA Philippines All-Stars. They will serve as assistant coaches for the annual Jr. NBA Alumni All-Star Game.

This year Collin Sexton of the Cleveland Cavaliers and WNBA legend Ticha Penicheiro are in Manila to help coach the top youth players at the training camp that will be held at the Don Bosco Technical Institute on May 18 and at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall on May 19.

Sexton, was selected eighth overall in the 2018 NBA Draft and averaged 16.6 points, three rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game with the Cavs this season. Before turning pro he was an NCAA star who played for Alabama, and probably best remembered for how he kept Alabama's NCAA Tournament hopes alive in March 2018 by driving coast-to-coast in four seconds to drain the buzzer-beating bucket and top Texas AandM in the SEC Tournament.

He started playing basketball when he was just three years old and grew up to be a high-school star. He spent only one season in college, but always rose to the occasion. In an out-of-conference match-up with fellow NCAA star Trae Young, Sexton scored 18 points and notched the victory for Crimson Tide. Later that season he scored 31 points in the SEC Tournament Semifinals as Alabama defeated Virginia Tech in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

A two-way player who can be both leading scorer and defensive brute, Collin Sexton's nickname is 'Young Bull.' He's proud of it and invites you to 'watch me play and you'll understand why.'

'I'm excited to work with aspiring young athletes and help contribute to their basketball development,' said Sexton. 'The Jr. NBA is a perfect program for them to learn essential skills and values that will help elevate their game.'

Meanwhile, Penicheiro who was drafted second overall by the Sacramento Monarchs in the 1998 WNBA Draft, is a WNBA Champion and a four-time WNBA All-Star. She is one of the WNBA's Top 15 Players of All Time and will be enshrined as part of the 2019 class of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame this June.

She spent 15 seasons in the WNBA with the Sacramento Monarchs, Los Angeles Sparks and Chicago Sky, and is considered one of the best point guards in WNBA history.

She is a certified leader on court with a flashy passing ability. Her high point in the WNBA was in 2005 when the Monarchs won the title. She was no prolific scorer, but her genius lay in being 'the consummate set-up artist.' A piece about her says she 'saw the court the way that a great conductor sees the music on the page: as something that is both concrete and certain, yet also abstract and subject to interpretation.'

She understood the gritty, down to earth aspects of the sport. She thrived in setting screens, slipping away from them, mastered the art of maximizing or cutting down passing angles, knew how to execute the science of the game with both art and force.

'Jr. NBA continues to be an inclusive platform for boys and girls, encouraging sports participation and instilling an active and healthy lifestyle among the Filipino youth,' said Penicheiro. 'I'm grateful for the opportunity to nurture their holistic growth and put them in a position to succeed in basketball and in life.'

Collin and Ticha will be at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall on Sunday. Come on down and see these two outstanding NBA/WNBA talents in the flesh. And find out who will be the newest Jr. NBA All-Stars.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:May 16, 2019
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