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05-31-2009, 09:27 AM

Batang PBA arousing success
By Joaquin M. Henson
Updated May 31, 2009 12:00 AM

For some 60 wide-eyed kids, the chance to play in the four-way Powerade National Batang PBA Finals in Manila was a dream come true.

The magical ride ended Friday with the top two teams disputing the first national championship but the memories will be forever etched in the minds of the boys who are likely to become the next generation’s hardcourt heroes.

The Batang PBA program was launched in 2004 to reach out to the youth and rebuild the league’s fan base for the years to come. It addresses the problem of tomorrow by securing the future today.

In the first five years, the Batang PBA was confined to Metro Manila where the 10 PBA franchises adopted cities and municipalities to form a 10-team league. The 10 participating teams were supplied with replica PBA jerseys and carried the names of their PBA benefactors as in the Quezon City-Batang Talk ‘N’ Text Tropang Texters.

This year, PBA commissioner Sonny Barrios decided to go nationwide, taking off from the success of the Metro Manila formula. The 10 PBA franchises adopted a maximum of 10 teams in each of the four regional tournaments in Metro Manila, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Designated to host the Luzon leg was Baguio, the Visayas leg Bacolod and the Mindanao leg Cagayan de Oro.

PBA special assistant to the commissioner and media bureau chief Willie Marcial said the league’s partners organized the regional meets in Baguio, Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro while the PBA itself took care of the Metro Manila leg.

The three winners of the non-Metro Manila legs were flown in by the PBA to participate in the Batang PBA Finals that started last Tuesday. The players, coaches and even some parents were billeted in hotels with food and transportation expenses all covered by the PBA. The Bacolod, Baguio and Cagayan de Oro champions wore the colors of their sponsor Burlington socks.

Last Thursday, the Batang PBA finalists were given to a tour of the Burlington plant, courtesy of Rudy Tan. The kids were treated like stars and they enjoyed every second of the visit, taking home lots of giveaways and of course, basketball socks.

Defending back-to-back-to-back Metro Manila champion Quezon City-Batang Talk ‘N’ Text, coached by Mark Herrera, took the first-ever national title, beating Burlington Bacolod in the finals. Among Herrrera’s players were the sons of Olsen Racela, Danny Ildefonso and Allan Gregorio.

Each team was composed of 15 boys in the 9-12 age range. To level the playing field, the PBA required each team to enlist up to four nine-year-olds (one in the reserve list) and three 12-year-olds.

In the Metro Manila leg, the teams with their PBA affiliates were Pasay-Barangay Ginebra, Caloocan-Burger King, San Juan-Rain Or Shine, Cainta-Sta. Lucia Realty, Quezon City-Talk ‘N’ Text, Quezon City-Alaska, Marikina-Barako Bull, San Pedro-Coca-Cola, Antipolo-Purefoods and Taytay-San Miguel Beer.

Norman Black served as the Batang PBA commissioner with PBA supervisor of officials Ramil Cruz as overall-in-charge.

Clearly, the Batang PBA concept has brought the league closer to tomorrow’s market and established a strong connection with the kids of today and the paying customers of the future. But more than the commercial aspect, it’s the PBA’s special way of being relevant, caring for the youth and spreading goodwill through sports.

PhilStar (http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=473026&publicationSubCategoryId=69)

Raging Blue
05-31-2009, 04:12 PM
Deleted. Transferred to more relevant thread