MANILA – Legend Jason Williams kept a keen eye on Filipino basketball talents all weekend long as he sat on his VIP row seat at the NBA 3X Philippines event at the Mall of Asia Music Hall.
Known for his flashy style of play and his exhilarating passes during his heyday, the 2006 NBA champion isn’t one to be impressed easily – yet a budding prospect out of the UST High School girls basketball program left “White Chocolate” on his feet and excited.
Incoming Grade 12 point guard Karylle Sierba won the MVP award in the women’s U19 category as she led her squad to a 21-8 romp over Adamson University in the championship game.
The 17-year-old Mauban, Quezon Province native dazzled in the final, showcasing her full repertoire of skills which included crossovers, long-range shots, and spectacular around-the-rim finishes, often leaving Williams himself speechless and reacting as if he was at the famed Rucker Park.
“Nakakatuwa lang dahil may bumibilib sa skills namin,” Sierba said after the festivities concluded on Sunday.
“Masaya rin po para sa akin kasi ‘yung pinaghirapan ko po tuwing training, naka support (ang mga nanonood) palagi sa akin.”
Basketball was introduced to Sierba by her older sister when she was “about eight or nine years old” and in second grade.
“Tinuturuan lang po ako ng ate ko, morning and afternoon, pati coaches ko pati sa Quezon,” she shared.
Her skill set resembles Kyrie Irving’s, as she has idolized the Dallas Mavericks star from the moment she first picked up a ball. Noticeably, those moves were present when Sierba secured the title for the UST Basketball Girls team.
“Sobrang saya ko po dahil nagbalik ang tournament ng NBA 3X. Hindi po namin in-expect (mag-champion), binigay lang po namin ‘yung best namin,” Sierba added
The countless hours of honing craft led to Sierba being a standout for Manuel S. Enverga University Foundation in Lucena City. She would compete in regional competitions, as well as the Palarong Pambansa.
In 2019, Sierba was named among the 10 Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Philippines all stars in an event graced by Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton and WNBA legend Ticha Penicheiro.
She would eventually be invited by the Espana side to try out, and she impressed the school enough to complete the transfer. A Physical Education and Sports Track student for the black and gold, Sierba looks to take her game even further.
“‘Yung shooting, kulang pa po ako. ‘Yung mga basic moves rin, kailangan kong pag-focusan pa,” she said. “Masaya po kasi ‘yung pinaghirapan namin tuwing training, na-apply namin sa future games.”
Sierba and Williams had a brief conversation when the latter personally awarded her the MVP trophy. Generously listed at 6-foot-1, Williams had told local media himself during an availability session that the undersized should not mind the disparity in height when it comes to playing.
“I’d tell ‘em that anybody talking about ‘too small’, all of that’s bullcrap. Just go out there, play hard and do what you’re capable of doing,” he said.
In Sierba, Williams found someone to relate to during this stay in Manila, and the incoming Golden Tigress is just delighted to put on a show.
“Nagpapasalamat kami dahil walang sawa nila kaming tinuturuan at nakatutok sa amin para matupad ang mga pangarap namin,” she said.