|Bruce Edwards, coach Bong Ulep, me, and Kamaka Hepa.|
Fil-Am Kamaka Hepa steals the NBTC show
by rick olivares
The San Beda Red Cubs took the 80-76 win over Fil-Am Sports USA to go to 2-0 in the SM-NBTC National High School Division One Championships at the MOA Arena, Tuesday, March 14. But it was the visiting Fil-American squad’s Kamaka Hepa who stole the show.
The 6’9” forward from New Jersey tallied a near triple double -- 27 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, and 9 blocks in 39 minutes of action. He fouled out in the last 30 seconds. The lanky forward playing out of Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon displayed a variety of moves that had the crowd in anticipation of his every move. He knocked down 3-6 triples, drove hard to the bask, hit turn around jumpers, tipped in misses from teammates, beautifully assisted teammates, and dunked on his awed guards.
“Kamaka played pretty much the whole game and got tired in the end,” said FilAm Sports’ head coach Bong Ulep.
Hepa, who traces his family’s roots to Asingan, Pangasinan is in the 11th grade and has received interest from US Division One Pacific 12 schools University of California, Berkley; University of Oregon; Stanford University; and the University of Washington as well as Gonzaga University, the University of Texas, and Kansas University. Coaches and scouts from Adamson University, Ateneo de Manila University, the College of St. Benilde, De La Salle University, Far Eastern University, San Beda College, and the University of the Philippines were at the venue to scout the Fil-foreign players from the US as well as those from Durham Crossover Sports Canada and Camp David New Zealand.
“From what I understand, my grandfather is from Pangasinan,” shared Hepa. “I didn’t know much of my roots until this trip became a reality. My father told me a few things but that’s it.”
“Basketball-wise, it’s a tough loss, but that’s the game. I’m excited to see what more we can do in this tournament,” cheerfully said Hepa.
“It won’t be easy to get someone who has attracted a lot of interest from US Division One schools,” said new FEU head coach Olsen Racela. “But we’ll see.”
Added Adamson head coach Franz Pumaren, “You can see he has a lot of skills. He can bring down the ball, put the ball on the floor, and drive. Very good upside. We’ll see what happens.”