Under the program, Altamirano said, the young players would develop values, leadership and integrity.
“But the most important of all, this program would help them develop love of country,” said Altamirano, a former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) chief mentor.
He added “aside from improving their skills, we are also preparing them for the life after basketball.” He pointed out that “basketball is not forever”.
“This program doesn't just make you better players or win back the country’s pride in basketball. The values you get out of this program is more important,” Altamirano told the players and their parents during the launching of NBTC-Mindanao on Sunday at the Bistro Rosario.
Patrick Gregorio, BAP-SBP executive director, said this program would not just develop good players but also good Filipino citizens.
“The best has yet to come,” said Gregorio of the multimillion program that is bankrolled by Tao Corporation and backed by Nokia.
Tao Corporation president Jun Sy recently pledged P80 million as support for the three-year program of SBP's NBTC and the RP national youth team.
On Sunday, NBTC Davao territory head Manny Nitorreda presented the 40 young players who qualified to the 14-15 and 16-17 years old age groups after the tryout conducted last January 12 at the Ateneo de Davao University high school gym.
Of the 40 qualifiers — 22 in 14-15 years old division and 18 in 16-17 years old class — only four are not from Davao City.
Gregorio and Altamirano have appealed to the parents of the young players to support the enrollment of their child in the program.
They said the support of the parents would be a “big help” to the success of the program.
And, they obtained a positive response.
“We will give our full support to our child and to NBTC because this is a good program,” said Nonoy Bonleon, the father of six-foot-one Mario Emmanuel Bonleon, 13, who was identified by Altamirano as “one of the bright prospects.”
His wife, Gerlie, added: “It’s very important. Being an athlete, he needs our support.”
The SBP's NBTC program aims to identify, prepare and develop outstanding young boys and girls aged 14 to 17 in the countryside and serve as training ground for the national youth teams that would compete in all tournaments sanctioned by FIBA, the international governing body of basketball.
“We want to give opportunities for the young players with national aspirations to train in the areas close to their homes by some of the country's topnotch coaches,” said Altamirano. (Rico Biliran / MindaNews)