MANILA, Philippines — Paul George of the Indiana Pacers held nothing back when he took the court together with 24 selected Filipino youth Monday night, July 20, for the Nike Rise campaign at the newly inaugurated House of Rise in Pasig. (WATCH: IN VINES: Paul George's slam dunks in Manila)
The 25-year old NBA star forward blended in with teenage youth half his size, sweating it up alongside the aspiring basketball players in various drills and in a scrimmage.
The Rise campaign selected 24 Filipino youth from around the archipelago through regional tryouts and online applications and brought them to Manila for a 6-week basketball training program under former Gilas Pilipinas head coach and multi-titled PBA coach Chot Reyes and assistant coach Jimmy Alapag.
On Monday, Reyes put the selection through dribbling, passing, and shooting drills designed to teach them the basics of Reyes' "dribble drive" system that include movement with the ball, shooting off motions, and creating opportunities off teammates.
He also made them scrimmage for the first time since training began 4 days ago.
The two-time All-Star participated in all the drills and was seen speaking to almost every youth, offering his advice and teaching them proper form.
George also set the kids up in plays, guarded them, rebounded, and impressed them with his own moves.
George, the 2013 Most Improved player, fearlessly rose high up for a number of jams, including a 360 and one in between the legs – proof that he has truly returned after suffering a horrific leg injury in 2014.
But more than his extraordinary physical skills, it was his strong character and resolve that shone brightly.
Each throwdown was a testament to how a determined athlete can overcome even the acid test of a gruesome injury.
George also officially opened House of Rise, the primary training facility for the 24 young athletes that will be trimmed to 16 as the program goes along.
The program, which aims to "inspire young Filipinos to discover that the ability to rise is in everyone" as well as to "raise their game and realize their true basketball potential," will give the selection access to top-notch training tools and facilities as well as mentorship from the country's top coaches.
As the young athletes live and train together throughout the program, they will learn technical aspects of basketball and will have strength and conditioning sessions.
After 6 weeks of training, the final Rise 16 will play against a collegiate selection, giving the kids a chance to show off what they've got – an opportunity they may not have gotten otherwise.
"Dito sa Pilipinas sa basketball kapag gusto mo maging star player, hindi na imposible e (Here in the Philippines, if you want to be a star player in basketball, it's no longer impossible)," said San Miguel Beermen's Arwind Santos, fresh off a PBA championship last Friday and was also present at the event.
"Galing kami doon. Sobrang hirap ng buhay hindi natin akalain at nagugulat din kami, pero nandito tayo ngayon. Basta gugustuhin mo na tuparin ang pangarap mo, kahit may mga sagabal kahit may mga bully, nasasayo yan. Basta i-try mo yung best mo maabot lang pangarap mo."
*We experienced it before. Life was so tough that we never expected to be here. We're still amazed by it but we're here. As long as you truly want to reach your dreams, no matter what hindrances or even if someone bullies you, it's all up to you. You just have to try your best to achieve all your dreams.)
Ultimately, the program will be shown through a weekly reality sports documentary that will air on TV5 every Sunday starting on August 2 at 6 PM. — Rappler.com