The Philippines is a haven for anyone who loves to play basketball. And at a young age, a lot of kids strive to become better athletes every day. Luckily for them, there are avenues for young ballers to showcase and develop their talents. For instance, several barangays hold thrilling local leagues during the summer. It’s a great way to expose kids to friendly competition.
On the other end, there are elite development programs that cater to young stars on a regional level. The Jr. NBA presented by Alaska and the Alaska Basketball Powercamp provide kids a way to enhance their skills with the hopes of taking their game to a higher level. Usually graduates of these programs end up playing for their high school’s team, and eventually get opportunities to play at the country’s most prestigious collegiate leagues like the UAAP and NCAA.
Several Jr. NBA and Alaska Powercamp young stars have made names for themselves as professional players in the PBA, or hoop sensations across the globe.
Blessed with height and talent, Ferrer showed everyone what he could do with the ball during his UAAP college days for UST. He’s a difficult matchup for typical defenders courtesy of his height and ability to drain from downtown. Ferrer has not only made his way to the PBA but has also represented the Philippine Flag while playing for the Gilas Cadets. Nowadays Kevin Ferrer plays small forward for the Brgy. Ginebra Gin Kings and is looking forward to compete internationally.
On a collegiate level, Montalbo acts as DLSU’s second stringer point guard. He’s a great source of fresh energy for La Salle’s speedy gameplay. He’s a decent guard who can bring down the rock, but a great off-the-ball player. Montalbo reminds fans of a young Rip Hamilton who can shoot off screens and drill corner three’s, especially when it meant the most.
He’s the Creighton Bluejay’s wingman who can bring heavy scoring to the table. Paras is able to do just about anything on the floor. While his biggest asset is his driving ability, he can shoot from long-distance, create shots, and handle the ball exceptionally well. Paras is a homegrown Filipino baller who’s been making waves in the U.S.A. because of his high basketball IQ. Who would’ve thought this 6’5” wingman once tested out his skills in the Jr. NBA?
The early days of Pessumal looked like as if he was a plain utility player who could put the ball through the basket occasionally. He proved everyone wrong when he grew to be Ateneo’s main small forward in the UAAP. Pessumal eventually fell in love with the three and provided mostly from there. Besides his shooting ability, he’s a very intelligent player who commits few errors on the court.
Melecio was DLSU’s biggest surprise in 2016. The incredibly fast point guard never looked like a rookie as he pushed an up-tempo pace each outing. The UAAP’s ROY was a confident player who pulled up from long distance and even crossed opponents with his blinding ball handles. His most memorable play would be during DLSU’s final stint against archrivals the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Melecio exploded on a fast break against a taller defender for a sweet flashy layup.
While it can be humbling for stars to look back at their formative years, their stories can be insipirations to those looking to follow in their footsteps.