DeMar DeRozan together with staff from Sprite and NBA pose for a picture with the Philippine Special Olympic athletes. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines -- Twenty-eight Special Olympic athletes got the chance to sharpen their basketball skills when they participated in an NBA Cares program during the NBA 3X Philippines event Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall.
Jr. NBA coach Chris Sumner and NBA All-Star DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors led the participants in shooting and dribbling drills, while the Toronto Raptors Dance Pak and Slamson the Lion, the mascot of the Sacramento Kings, cheered them on.
Christian Doroin, the National Sports Director of Special Olympics Philippines, said it was an inspirational experience for their athletes.
"Special Olympics is really all about finding a place for them in society," Doroin told ABS-CBNnews.com. "For these athletes, majority of them are really looking forward to the part where they can be proud of themselves and they can brag about it, that they were able to play with these guys and train with these guys."
"These types of events really inspire them to really work harder, train harder, and perform in a larger scale when we got to competitions here and abroad," he added.
Doroin said they brought a variety of athletes to the event, from the younger children to the ones currently training and those who have participated in international games.
"Being exposed like this, getting them to interact people, that's the best thing that they can really ask for," he said. "And really, the training of the Special Olympics is not just about sports, it's really the interaction with people also."
The 28 Special Olympic athletes who participated in the NBA Cares event are part of a 3.5-million strong network of athletes under Special Olympics International, which is one of the world's largest programs focusing on sports training and competition.
Special Olympics offers 32 Olympic-type summer and winter sports, and holds more than 44,000 competitions annually across the world with the help of more than 805,000 volunteers and nearly 250,000 coaches.