ROTA: Stint at NBA basketball camp in Abu Dhabi a ‘huge leap’ in budding career
CEBU CITY, Philippines—- Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC) Magis Eagles’ Jelo Mar Rota considered his stint in the 13th Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Asia Camp of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The 6-foot-5 big man of the Magis Eagles is currently training with 79 other carefully-selected high school basketball prospects around Asia along with fellow Filipino Andy Gemao of the Letran University Squires.
In an interview with CDN Digital, Rota said that the camp was a huge ‘leap’ in his budding basketball career.
“This camp is an absolute leap for me. Not only that it will enhance my skills and abilities with the assistance of veteran experts on field but also, it will help me grow more my passion for basketball. I know I will learn a lot through this camp, I will keep my focus and improve techniques with the aid of my NBA coaches,” said Rota who is also a member of Cebu School’s Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) Mythical Five.
“This camp will teach me more about dedication, patience, bravery, how to get and handle the ball ,as well as how to handle our real life,” he added.
The BWB Training Camp will wrap up on Monday. It started last June 2.
For Rota, he felt blessed and grateful for what he considered as a once in a lifetime opportunity to be trained by world-class coaches from NBA and FIBA.
Rota isn’t the first Cebuano to get selected in this prestigious international basketball training camp. It can be recalled that one of the country’s top high school players and his teammate Jared Bahay of Barangay Mambaling also participated in this basketball camp.
Most recently, another Magis Eagles prospect, Henry Kristoffer Suico of Mandaue City was invited by the NBA Academy Asia Development Camp in Singapore last month.
“I feel grateful and blessed having given this once in a lifetime opportunity. I was honestly surprised when I heard about the news. This means so much to me and I will strive hard to learn more and get better than my best,” Rota explained.
Amidst the excitement, Rota admitted that he felt the pressure in meeting new teammates and getting along with the coaches drills.
“The most challenging thing is when you meet new teammates in the camp from different countries and with different culture,” said Rota.
“My secret to managing this challenge is to communicate. Get to know them, get along and have fun. And so we have to be united.”
Not many have known, a group of former Magis Eagles players helped Rota pay for his tuition in SHS-AdC during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021.
According to his head coach, Rommel Rasmo, his former players helped Rota with his enrollment and tuition, due to the uncertainty that was caused by the pandemic.
Rasmo added that Rota almost didn’t make it to the enrollment period due to Covid-19 restrictions, but with the help of his players, Rota is now representing them in the international stage of basketball.
“I started signing up with a lot of try-outs and interviews, it’s a long process. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it took me almost 2 years before I was officially enrolled in Magis Eagles,” Rota recalled.
“I am so thankful to some of alumni players of Magis Eagles who supported and helped me since I enrolled in Magis Eagles, last 2021. Thank you so much for helping me, even it was a pandemic time. You paid for my tuition fee, to start and officially enrolled in SHS-Ateneo de Cebu. And even it was a quarantine, thank you for helping us on our Basketball practice and trainings.”
He also thanked his family, Rasmo, the Magis Eagles coaching staff, the Magis Eagles benefactors, faculty and his fellow Bantayanons for their unwavering support to him.
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