NBA rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz planed into Manila early Father’s Day morning of the 17th June and stepped onto Manila soil for the first time when he landed around wee hours of 2am from China.
“I was surprised by the love of the fans even at two in the morning. I wanna give them love!” he shared during his presscon at the newly-expanded Adidas store in BGC.
NBA enthusiasts flocked the vicinity of the shoe store to catch Donovan as he faced the press and media passed 2pm. He was joined in the panel by PBA veteran Chris Tiu, Gilas cadet Kobe Paras, and new UP Fighting Maroon Bright Akhuetie, who all got to share a bit about themselves and interact with the NBA rookie.
The twenty-one year old led the Utah Jazz to a Western Conference Semifinals playoff run, taking out the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round before falling to the Houston Rockets in five games.
Mitchell was selected 13th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Putting up 20.5 points a game in his rookie season, Mitchell led Utah to a 48-34 record, good for fifth in the West.
Aside from a stellar rookie season, Mitchell was also the 2018 NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Champion as well as a member of the 2018 NBA All Rookie first team.
In a panel interview held at adidas Bonifacio Global City, Mitchell took time to answer questions regarding his amazing rookie campaign, his transition from college to the NBA, and his daily and pre-game routines to mention a few which was asked by our very own cager Chris Tiu.
Mitchell's regular breakfast line up are 4-5 pancakes, bacon and eggs!
Fast rising player and awarded dunker Kobe Paras also shared some thoughts on mental stability that is essential in preparing for a game.
Donovan was also impressed by the fact that Kobe's popular dad, athlete/actor Benjie Paras was a Rookie Sensation as well during his early years in basketball and the only PBA player to win both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors in a single season (1989).
Donovan wanted to impart an important message for kids in school to value homework.
"My favorite subjects in school was recess and gym." which he laughs off while recalling it.
"But seriously, it is very important for all the kids out there to do your homework and do well in school."
Photo Credit: Aldrin Paul Raymundo
After the roughly 75 minute presser, Mitchell did a meet and greet with a handful of lucky hoops fans.
He then went straight to Taft Food at the Court for a 2-hour basketball camp with a group of lucky young ballers who were eagerly waiting for him since the morning.
Mitchell put the kids through some dribbling and shooting drills, before having a little friendly competition with some of the pros and collegiate hoops stars in the flesh.
Photo Credit: Aldrin Paul Raymundo
PBA rookie Rey Nambatac, former NU star JJay Alejandro, and UP playmakers Diego Dario with Jun Manzo were some of the guys to challenge Mitchell to a three-point shootout.
Mitchell then led the likes of Alex Mallari, Arvin Tolentino, and Jerrick Ahanmisi into a modified game of HORSE named SPIDA, to fit Mitchell's standards of course, before judging a dunk-off between Paras, Mallari and Akhuetie to cap the clinic and shoot out.
It was a special close encounter with Donovan that these young and promising kids will relish and treasure that will inspire them to pursue and improve on their basketball skills.
"It's cool, the energy, the flow, we're all having fun right now," Akhuetie shared of his experience. "It's really good to have somebody like him because it gives us motivation and makes us wanna strive for more."
In the evening, Mitchell and his entourage arrived in time to catch the match between Brgy. Ginebra VS Magnolia at the Araneta Coliseum.
The veteran Magnolia players excitedly and patiently waited for Donovan to emerge and then a happy groupie photo got snapped with him all smiles and posted in social media right away.
It was indeed a loooong productive day for rookie Donovan"Spidah" Mitchell and with how his itinerary turning out sooo exceedingly well, we are guessing a 2nd or 3rd visit back ain't far from happening.
Thank you to Adidas PH for making the #SpidahInMNL visit possible.