Three high school standouts from the recently concluded Elite 60 Development Camp just got the biggest break of their young careers.
Steve Nash Enriquez, Harold Alarcon, and Royce Mantua have all been invited to be part of the Batang Gilas pool.
"It's a good sign and a good step towards the future development of our players," said Anton Altamirano, an official with the National Basketball Training Center, as the four-day camp concluded on Sunday morning at the Colegio San Agustin in Makati. "This is a big impact. We're doing something right."
Now in its second year, the Elite 60 camp, which is supported by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and MVPSF (Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation), seeks 16-and-under players -- unlike its previous installment that looked for 18-and-under talent. The focus on younger players is aimed at helping the Batang Gilas program find the best up and coming talent in the country.
"The bottom line really is we just want to help out kids who have less opportunities, give them more chances," Altamirano said. "It's just a bonus that they're being acknowledged, being noticed."
In the camp's championship game held Saturday night, Gilas assistant Josh Reyes were among the coaches present. He had a first glimpse of the raw talent and potential of the top high school players in the nation.
Steve Nash Enriquez, whose namesake is the former two-time NBA MVP Phoenix Suns guard, is a product of University of the Visayas. He stands below six feet, but is as fearless and crafty as any of his peers.
"I'm so happy because that's my goal. I've been really looking forward to Gilas even when I was a kid," Enriquez gushed.
The 15-year-old point guard out of Cebu was actually heralded as the weekend's best camper and the best player in the All-Star game held on Sunday.
"His play all throughout the camp really stood out. He really displayed all the qualities of a guard," Altamirano said. "He reminds me a lot of how Terrence Romeo plays."
Aside from the Gilas call-up, Enriquez has also been invited to the United States to train under Global Squad Academy, a group that focuses on providing international players access to U.S. training and exposure.
Representing Bacolod, Harold Alarcon out of Bacolod Tay Tung High School was also invited to the national team pool.
"We all know he could score but what he showed during the camp was how he could also take charge," Altamirano said about the 6-foot-1 guard. "He was gun-shy during the first day but as the tournament progressed, he was able to spread his wings."
Royce Mantua from Australia also received a Batang Gilas call-up. Mantua was actually part of the Australian team that competed in the NBTC National Finals earlier this year.
"I was talking to coach Josh Reyes last night, those are the type of players that they want -- long, agile, players who can defend the guard," Altamirano said talking about the young shooting guard from Australia.
Without a doubt, the Elite 60 Development Camp has fulfilled its goal of not only finding and developing young talent around the country, but also aiding the Batang Gilas program.
"That's the dream -- give them big opportunities to achieve their dreams," Altamirano said.