MANILA, Philippines -- After more than 15 basketball camps over five months in four different cities and surviving a grueling National Training Camp in May, the Jr. NBA Philippine All Stars are off for a trip of their lives.
As a reward for being selected as 10 of the best under-15 year old basketball players in the country, the Jr. NBA All Stars are headed to Shanghai, China to witness a blockbuster preseason game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the defending champions Miami Heat.
Making the trip even sweeter for the future of Philippine basketball is the fact that the Heat are coached no less by than their kababayan, Fil-Am Erik Spoelstra.
For the provincial-based players, this will be their first time to see any professional basketball game live. They've never even see PBA game or even a big-time UAAP or NCAA college game.
Lui Besa of Bohol said this dream come true will surely help him be more inspired to improve.
"Never pa po ako naka-panood ng PBA game na live, itong makapanood ako ng NBA, grabe po. Dream come true ito for me, at magiging inspiration ko," he said.
For Paul Dagunan, who comes from Palawan, he will not only will he see his first professional basketball game, he will see his idol, Dwyane Wade. "Idol ko po talaga si Wade. Sobrang excited ako makita siya in person at mapanood 'yung moves niya in person," he said.
Even Alaska Basketball Camp's operations head Jojo Lastimosa shares the same excitement. He too grew up in the province -- in Cagayan de Oro to be exact.
"I know how excited these kids are. Ako when I first saw a PBA game, I was 16 years old. It really changed my life. Imagine for them pa to see an NBA game and see their idols," Lastimosa said.
Spoelstra got wind of the Jr. NBA All Stars coming over and has made a point to want to meet the group before the game in Shanghai.
Besa and Dagunan will be joined by Aljun Jay Melecio, Camillus Altamirano, Patrick Ramirez and John Roald Mayor from the Manila camp; Felixberto Jaboneta and Arnie Padilla from the Cagayan de Oro camp; Antonio Jeffrey Coronel from Pampanga; and Regille Kent Ilagan from the Alaska Power Camp in Manila.