By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Reporter

Businesses get behind Jr. NBA Asia council

Posted on February 04, 2016

IN AN EXPANDED effort to put further wind in its push to promote youth basketball development in Asia, the National Basketball Association, through its Jr. NBA program, spearheaded the formation of an advisory council to encourage basketball participation and active lifestyles among children.

Basketball Hall-of-Famer Dikembe Mutombo is part of the newly formed Jr. NBA Asia Advisory Council. --
Composed of some of the prominent business and community leaders as well as basketball stakeholders in the Asian region, the newly established Jr. NBA Asia Advisory Council is hoped to provide direction on Jr. NBA’s development and accelerate the program’s growth with the goal of reaching more boys and girls across the region to help address and combat youth inactivity.

The council counts as members Hall-of-Famer and NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo; CEO/Asia, Forbes Media William P. Adamopoulos; Boonrawd Brewery Co., Ltd. Executive Vice-President and Director Chutinant Bhimrombhakdi; Westports Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. CEO Ruben Emir Gnanalingam; GDP Venture and Kaskus CEO Martin Basuki Hartono; Xebio Co., Ltd. Executive Fellow Hiroko Morohashi; IDG Venture Vietnam Managing General Partner Henry Nguyen; YAN Media Group Chairman Rachan (Butch) Reddy; SM Prime Philippines President Hans Sy; Mayapada Group Indonesia Deputy Chairman Jonathan Tahir; Berjaya Corp. Berhad Chairman and CEO Dato’ Sri Robin Tan Yeong Ching; Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Founder, President and CEO Dennis A. Uy; and Alaska Milk Corp. President and CEO Wilfred Steven Uytengsu.

NBA Asia Managing Director Scott Levy is chairman of the council.

“We’re very excited to announce the launch of the Jr. NBA Asia Advisory council. Jr. NBA is the NBA’s global grassroots development program and which we have rolled out across five countries in Southeast Asia starting last year and we now have over 1.4 million kids, parents, and coaches coming through the program. Our goal is to make this program available to kids in schools throughout the Southeast Asian countries,” said Mr. Levy in a conference call with the Asian media on Monday night, which BusinessWorld participated in.

“To facilitate that rollout, we have established the Jr. NBA Asia Advisory Council with some of the most prominent business leaders across the region that will help us to advance the program, accelerate its penetration, and to get more kids involved. These are some of the most influential people we have in the region and they have all already helped us implement the program at a much quicker pace than we could have done on our own. So we’re very excited to have this group together, we greatly appreciate their support, and we think they’re going to be big for the Jr. NBA in Asia over the next several years,” he added.

In selecting the composition of the council, Mr. Levy shared that it was important to get like-minded groups on board to ensure the effectivity of their thrust.

“What we were looking for were people that had a track record in supporting their community, supporting their country, supporting youth development. We were hopeful that they would have the passion for the sport of basketball and that they would be interested in helping roll out the Jr. NBA program. We were very careful to make sure that the members were going to be interested, supportive and had a track record of already doing these kinds of things on their own,” the NBA official said.

“The council members, in addition to joining our meetings twice a year, are available to us whenever we go into a market, whenever we do a program. The Philippine event is now running and we have all our partners coming together, coming to our event and helping guide the program to make an impact on the community. That’s where their advice and their support really make a difference in the success of the program,” Mr. Levy added in describing the role council members play.

In the Philippines, SM Prime, Phoenix Petroleum and Alaska Milk are longtime partners of the NBA for its programs in the country.

For someone whose life was changed significantly by sports, Mr. Mutombo could not help but underscore the significance of programs like the Jr. NBA.

As part of the council, Mr. Mutombo is set to do the rounds of the places the program is being implemented.

“I think the Jr. NBA program will have an immeasurable impact in Asia and the rest of the world because we are not only teaching the game of basketball, but we are also teaching how to lead healthy lifestyles. We want to make sure that all kids will have the chance to play the game of basketball because you cannot play basketball if you’re not physically healthy, if you’re not eating right and if you’re not getting all the nutrition that you need for you to participate in the game of basketball,” the former NBA star, who had stops in Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Houston, said during the conference call.

“Those are the things that, with my presence and my lifestyle, will contribute to the success of this program. For me to come there and tell the young men and young girls -- this is what you need to do, this is how you have to live, and you have to do all those things properly for you to stay successful because my success didn’t come as magic. I took time. I contribute a lot. I was focused. I was disciplined. So all those things and all the lessons I learned, I would love to give that to many young boys and girls that come to the program,” he added.

Jr. NBA is the league’s global youth basketball participation program, which has been conducted across Southeast Asia for the past two years. The program is free across its four stages: open clinics for kids ages 5-14; competitive selection camps where top boys and girls ages 10-14 are identified to participate in the National Training Camp (NTC); the NTC where the top 15 boys and girls are selected as Jr. NBA All-Stars based on the values of sportsmanship, teamwork, attitude and respect; and the NBA experience where Jr. NBA All-Stars from all five countries embark on a unique, overseas trip to watch an NBA game, receive basketball training, tour the local city and play exhibition games.

The program also includes a “train the trainer” initiative designed to develop the skills of coaches and physical education teachers who return to their communities to share their knowledge with local kids. The 2016 Southeast Asia Jr. NBA schedule tipped off in the country on Jan. 23 and culminates in Indonesia on Aug. 28.

Follow the Jr. NBA on Facebook to learn more about the program.