“No matter what the odds are, Just keep playing.” That’s the message that Cleveland Cavaliers rising star Collin Sexton wants to impart to the participants of Jr. NBA Philippines, which will be held on May 18 at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati and May 19 at SM Mall of Asia Music Hall.
Sexton learned from experience. Playing for the Alabama Crimson Tide in college, he almost led his team to a comeback victory playing three against five. Due to ejections, injury and a teammate fouling out, his team was against all odds. But that didn’t stop him from playing as he scored 40 points while giving a scare to their opponent.
“Working when everybody isn’t” is a mindset shared by the eighth pick of the 2018 draft, a motto that helped achieve his dream. Before he was recruited by Alabama, he was an unranked prospect during his sophomore year of high school. But after committing to spend more time in the gym and continuous practices, he became one of the top prospects the following year.
Even after an inspiring rookie season, the 20-year old doesn’t plan to stop working on his game. “Keep improving on my shooting” is what he wants to do next season, while watching more films and having a better all-around game.
Ticha Penicheiro, a WNBA champion with the Sacramento Monarchs, has the same advice for kids, aged 13-14 years old, that she will be coaching.
“If you really want to be good at something, you have to have the passion for it and desire to be better”, she says.
Penicheiro retired at the end of the 2012 season as one of the finest and most exciting WNBA players. Having a father who was a basketball coach, she understood the value of fundamentals early on and will be giving importance to that aspect of the game when coaching some of the best young talents in the Philippines on May 18 and 19.
Both Sexton and Penichiero have reached the apex of their sport and even though they are at a different stage of their careers, they are very excited to share their knowledge to the youngsters, who, time will come, encounter their own challenges on and off the court.
“I can’t wait…Just because I went to different camps before and they had this one player to answer questions… that stuck with me forever,” remembers an excited Sexton.
Aside from coaching, the two basketball stars will also help in selecting the five best male and five best female players that will be included to the Jr. NBA Philippines All-Stars.
The Jr NBA is the league’s global youth basketball program that has been successful both domestically and locally, producing amateur and professional basketball players. Some of the Jr. NBA Alumni who have made their mark in the local basketball scene are Kai Sotto, Kobe Paras, Ricci Rivero, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena.