The US Embassy, along with the US State Department, and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), recently brought in former NBA player Cherokee Parks, who used to be with the Golden State Warriors, and now currently with the management of NBA; and WNBA player Alana Beard. Both athletes held basketball camps for kids, in Davao, and also in Manila, and they were more than willing to share their experience in this interview.

US Ambassador Sung Kim talked about the program, and says, “I am very proud of this cultural exchange program, and it has been a wonderful way to connect people. The Philippines is a basketball country, and I am very happy that Cherokee, and Alana, got to share their knowledge and skills, with young aspiring basketball players.”

Former NBA player Cherokee Parks, was more than impressed with Filipinos as a whole, and how Filipinos love basketball, and says, “It’s tremendous, just the knowledge of the game, and the love of the game. I mean, it’s very similar to what we experience in the United States, but more than that, the kindness, the generosity of the Filipino people has been amazing.”

 

“People are so nice, and so generous, lots of smiles. The kids have been outstanding. We got to see a lot, we got to go around. The Embassy has been wonderful, Ateneo de Davao University was tremendous.”

 

 

As for Filipino food, the 6’11” former player says, “There’s a lot of American style cuisine, but the food here seems very, what we say, ‘comfort food’. It’s tasty, and very good. I’ve tried halo-halo, sisig both pork and tuna, I tried Jollibee…ya, the food is outstanding.”

 

When asked if it was a long-term program, he says, “We would love it to be. It’s the first time that we went here, thru the US Embassy to the Philippines. I know there’s a lot of programs, players, and teams who have come down here. But, it’s the first time thru the State Department, and the US Embassy, that we’ve been able to do this program, that we’ve been able to do something like this. So coming on behalf of the United States, and we got to go around the Philippines, it has been amazing. And hopefully we can do this again soon.”

While Alana Beard, also shared her recent experience and was also impressed with how the country loves the sport, “I’ve had the time of my life, this has been one of the most life-inspiring moments that I’ve ever had. It’s my first time in the Philippines, and I’m extremely thankful to the US Embassy, for inviting me to be part of this. We’ve been able to touch the lives of kids, 12 and under from Davao, and Manila. It’s just been a cool experience. Just the passion and the love, that you all have for basketball, which is actually an understatement, it goes beyond that.”

 

Alana continues, “It’s my first time here, I love it. People are so warm, the food is amazing, I gave up on my diet, just to try all of the cuisine here. We had tuna sisig in Davao, and oh my god, I ate the whole thing, and asked for another one.”

Alana was also impressed with the kids who participated, and says, “The kids are just like sponges, and they just want information,… their discipline, their desire, their grit and determination, like it’s all there. I would come back and coach kids anytime of the day. Because there isn’t much that you need to do. The easy part is teaching the skill, the hard part is getting the kids to realize how great they can be. But these kids already know that.”

“I hope they’ll put on another event, but even if that doesn’t happen, my ultimate goal is to come back, and do something with the communities here. Because I fell in love with the group, and hopefully we can make it happen.”

As a parting shot, Cherokee Parks, also shared his wisdom for kids who want to get into basketball, “You want to get into basketball, you play. We all got started the same way, whether you’re in the Philippines or the United States, we pick up the ball, and we find a court, or we find a basket to shoot at, and we start playing. So whether you start playing in your driveway, or in the street, or you start playing in the park, all you have to do is work hard, and try to be better as a player.”

 

 

Date: October 11, 2018 | By: Charmaine Cruz | Newspaper: The Manila Times | Source: https://www.manilatimes.net/qa-with-us-sports-envoys/450177/