FOR the fourth straight year, SLAM Magazine is gathering 24 of the best high school players in the land in one place with the SLAM Rising Stars Classic.
Happening on March 26 at the Gatorade Hoops Center, the high school all-star game channels the focus anew on future hoops stars in the country while at the same time highlighting the sport of basketball and its power to make an impact on one’s life.
“We are happy with the progress of the event. It keeps growing every year. And since we are getting bigger it has translated to more exposure for the players,” said SLAM Managing Editor Miguel Rocha in an interview with BusinessWorld at the sidelines of the presentation of the Rising Stars participants last weekend.
“Our mantra as a company is ‘love for the game.’ It’s all worth it. To see the players go through the process in achieving their basketball dreams and at the same time enjoy themselves,” added Mr.
Rocha in describing the motivation for them to continue what they do with the Rising Stars.
And this mission and vision of SLAM is certainly not lost to those who are participating in the Rising Stars, who describe it as a “great experience.”
“This is my second year participating in the Rising Stars and I have to say that it has been a great experience for me. I have learned a lot as a player here and I’m happy to be back,” said Chiang Kai Shek College (CKSC) forward Jonas Tibayan in a separate interview.
For National University (NU) Bull Pup Karl Penano, who is making his event debut, to be part of the Rising Stars is a great achievement for him and something he is very excited about.
“I heard a lot about it before. How it’s a gathering of some of the top high school players in the country and I really wanted to be part of it and I’m happy that this year I’m participating,” said Penano, who helped his team reach the finals of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 tournament.
“It’s an opportunity for me to learn more from other players and mentors and coaches here while at the same time represent my school,” he added.
Tibayan will play for Team Hype in this edition of the all-star game. Joining him are Carlo Abadeza (Arellano University [AU]), Rhayyan Amsali (NU), Lj Gonzales (Far Eastern University [FEU]), Winderlich Coyoca (NU), Juan Gomez de Liano (University of the Philippines Integrated School), Will Gozum (Mapua Institute of Technology [MIT]), Rom Junsay (MIT), Germy
Mahinay (San Beda College [SBC]), Robert Minerva (CKSC), Martin Romero (De La Salle Zobel) and Joshua Tagala (SBC).
They will be coached by Philippine Basketball Association legend Willie Miller, assisted by coach Gian Nazario of De La Salle Zobel.
Penano, meanwhile is part of Team Punks along with Sam Abu Hijleh (SBC), John Lloyd Clemente (NU), Guilmer dela Torre (AU), Aaron Fermin (AU), Dave Ildefonso (Ateneo De Manila University), Troy Mallillin (La Salle Greenhills [LSGH]), Unique Naboa (LSGH), Miguel Oczon (CKSC), Harvey Pagsanjan (Hope Christian High School), Kenji Roman (FEU) and Jasper Saleng
Their coach is Alaska Aces player Tony Dela Cruz, assisted by Joe Silva of Ateneo.
In last year’s Rising Stars Classic, current UAAP Rookie of the Year Aljun Melecio drilled a dagger three to give Team Punks the 103-98 victory over Team Hype. The former DLSZ star finished with 12 points, four rebounds and two assists to take home the most valuable player trophy while NU’s John Lloyd Clemente led the way for Team Hype with 23 points.
Seeing how the all-star classic has grown that way it has, Mr. Rocha said they are all the more determined to see it continue.
“We want to bring it to the next level and make it a long-term program. We want to develop high school players and aid them in the pursuit of their basketball dreams,” he said.
The Rising Stars Classic is fueled by Gatorade, outfitted by adidas, with Smart as official telecommunications partner, Resorts World Manila as venue partner and supported by Titan.
It will be carried live over ABS-CBN S+A, with coverage starting at 6 p.m.