YOUNG cagers Sin Chun Kit and Phang Xin Ying were the stars of this year’s Jr. NBA Malaysia after making the cut in the All-Stars team and bagging the Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards.
The duo rose with 13 others to the top to secure the coveted spots on the team during the final day of the Jr. NBA National Training Camp which was held at 1 Utama Shopping Center earlier this month.
The deserving 10 boys and five girls were chosen from a pre-selected pool of 64 hopefuls aged 10-14 years from around the country will and be given the opportunity to travel overseas for a unique NBA experience later in the year.
This year’s Jr. NBA Malaysia, presented by Dutch Lady, saw an expansion of the programme into the Northern states which was supported by the Education Ministry, Spalding and Westports Malaysia Dragons.
During the basketball clinics held in schools in Kedah, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Perak, Jr. NBA coaches imparted on youths the fundamentals of basketball and the importance of proper nutrition while learning the Jr NBA core S.T.A.R. values –Sportsmanship, Teamwork, A positive attitude and Respect.
The National Training Camp was the culmination of the Jr. NBA Malaysia, providing the top 40 boys and top 24 girls the opportunity to train with and compete against one another after months of preparation at the local and regional training camps.
It was held in conjunction with a five-day NBA Fan Zone event at the mall, treating visitors to NBA entertainment and experiences while the three-day training and selection programme took place.
Along with the budding basketballers, parents who were there for their children and mall-goers were treated to the presence of New Zealand’s first NBA player Steven Adams from the Oklahoma City Thunder along with Miami Heat mascot Burnie who proved to be a crowd favourite.
Even though Adams, 23, helped train the 64 participants and enjoys having a laugh and horsing around with the youths, he was able to inspire them with awe. But he was also one of the selection judges.
Like a parent or mentor, he kept a close eye on the participants as they competed against one another during the friendly matches.
The 2.13m Oklahoma City Thunder centre said events like the Jr. NBA where corporate companies and the government collaborate give young players the chance to broaden their horizons, especially with the chance to watch a NBA game.
“I never had this kind of chance and no one in New Zealand has either. All these opportunities is because of companies investing in the grassroots.
“In basketball, I had to work harder because with basketball not being our main sport in New Zealand, it was a disadvantage. Malaysia will be the same. But as long as someone is willing to work when the kids are willing –and they are, we’ll see good results,” he said.
Ironically, Adams had initially dreamt of being an All Blacks rugby player but switched to basketball when he was 13 years old and now has an academy and runs camps when he is back home in New Zealand.
“An event like this is something I really enjoy because I can understand what is trying to be done here. Which is to give this kids the opportunity to make something of basketball.
“The kids here are enjoying themselves, they love the game. There’s passion and they are willing.
“As long as there are great coaches putting up a good programme around the youths and allowing them to grow, it is only a matter of time.
“Malaysia has everything here that’s needed. It’s just that it takes time now and it’s not something we can speed up. We just have to take the time and have to go through what time does to us,” he said.
“Now in its third year, the Jr. NBA Malaysia programme has continued to expand to more than 200 schools across the country, training close to 6,000 boys and girls which is phenomenal,” said NBA Asia senior director of Marketing Partnerships Jim Wong.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan, who was present at the closing ceremony, said the continuation of Jr. NBA in Malaysia presented by Dutch Lady is in itself testament to the impact it has had on Malaysian youths and the community as well.
Dutch Lady Malaysia marketing director Ashlee Ng said the partnership has served as an effective platform to promote physical activity through basketball and allowed Dutch Lady to leverage on Jr. NBA remarkable reputation to create awareness and educate children on having an active and healthy lifestyle.
“Malaysia already has multiple renowned athletes in badminton, squash, track cycling and divers to name a few and we hope Dutch Lady Malaysia is able to add one more national player to make Malaysia proud via the Jr. NBA programme.
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