Cole, McWilliams-Franklin to visit Manila for Jr. NBA/JR. WNBA PH

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Former champions will grace the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Philippines 2016 National Training Camp this weekend.

New Orleans Pelicans guard Norris Cole and WNBA champion Taj McWilliams-Franklin join head coach Craig Brown in training the 2016 finalists in the three-day event, to commence at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall on Sunday, April 24.

Cole and McWilliams-Franklin will also be at the Don Bosco Technical Institute on April 22 and 23 to meet the best of the 20,000 players and coaches, who joined this year’s installment, before coaching against each other for the Jr. NBA Alumni All-Star Game on Sunday.

“I’ve heard basketball is a way of life in the Philippines, and I look forward to experiencing this passion during my first visit to the country,” Cole said in a statement. “I am also eager to work with the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA participants and to share the importance of a winning attitude on and off the court.”

Cole is a fifth-year playmaker who won titles with LeBron James and coach Erik Spoelstra with the Miami Heat in their back-to-back championship runs in 2012 and 2013.

McWilliams-Franklin added, “It feels great knowing how much boys and girls in the Philippines appreciate basketball. I’m excited to share my time on and off the court and inspire more children to play the game.”

She was a two-time WNBA champion and a six-time WNBA All-Star, who played for Orlando Miracle, Connecticut Sun, Los Angeles Sparks, Washington Mystics, Detroit Shock, New York Liberty and Minnesota Lynx in her 14 seasons in the league.

This is the ninth year of the Jr. NBA program here in the country, and the event has grown bigger and bigger through the years. This year, regional camps were held in Baguio, Cebu, Davao and Manila, with the top 50 boys and top 24 girls making it to the National Training Camp.

Ten boys and five girls will be selected as Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA All-Stars at the end of the camp, and will travel on an overseas NBA experience trip together with fellow Jr. NBA All-Stars from Southeast Asia.