When in Manila, you will realize sooner or later that Filipinos have a passionate love affair with the game of basketball. You can notice it as soon as you start hitting the streets as backboards and hoops are present after pretty much every corner you turn. This normally comes across as surprising for foreigners, given that genetics hasn’t been very kind to us basketball-crazy Filipinos.
The same thoughts may have been going through the minds of the USA All-Stars, a team of NBA legends, veterans and journeymen who visited the Philippines this week to play an exhibition game Wednesday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Led by Hall of Famer Oscar “The Big O” Robertson — who was the team’s coach — and 6-time NBA Champion Scottie Pippen, the USA All-Stars held a basketball clinic at the SM Mall of Asia Arena for twenty boys from Childhope Asia Philippines, a partner NGO of SM Foundation, Inc.
The American cagers spent one hour teaching the boys how to do basic drills to hone skills like how to shoot a layup properly and how to make a proper jump shot. The drills were followed by a scrimmage, where several members of the USA All-Star team played against the boys in a very loose pickup game. Twelve-year NBA veteran Jason Williams even reminded some of the boys in the camp why he was called “White Chocolate” throughout his NBA career by showing off some of his ballhandling skills during the scrimmage.
The boys, whose ages range from nine to seventeen years, were selected by Childhope Asia Philippines after SM Foundation, Inc. requested for twenty boys to be brought in for the basketball camp. Childhope Asia Philippines is an NGO whose main advocacy is the cause of street children all around the world and their main activities involve providing alternative means of education for street children.
Eleanor Lansang, SM Foundation Inc.’s Project Manager for Education, said that while the basketball clinic helped concretely fulfill the advocacy of their partner NGO, the event also served as an outreach program on behalf of the entire SM Group of Companies.
Seventeen-year-old Jesus Cani, one of the boys who attended the basketball clinic, said that the biggest lesson he took away from the event was how to grow as a player and as a member of a team by listening to one’s coach. He also said that he was very excited to be there to meet one of his idols, Scottie Pippen.
The event ended with a photo opportunity between all the boys and the members of the USA All-Star team, along with Oscar Robertson. The charisma and showmanship that the American ballers displayed during the clinic served as a teaser for their game later that night against the PBA Legends.
When in Manila, remember that basketball isn’t just a sport. It’s a way of life.
Photos by WhenInManila.com photographers Martin Chua and Lawrence Pagan
NBA All-Star Basketball Clinic Manila Charity: Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman with Filipino Kids