TNT Tropang Giga and Smart train future leaders in basketball

(Press Release)

For the first time ever, TNT Tropang GIGA is launching a training program for basketball management. This program aims to mold potential candidates and train them to be part of the coaching staff of Smart Communications, Inc.’s professional basketball team.

“Throughout my career, I have always tried to live according to my passion and purpose. This is an oft-repeated topic even in my talks. My passion has always been coaching and building teams—whether in sports or business. And my purpose is to further the advancement of Filipino coaches, so we can, in turn, help develop the next generation of Filipino leaders,” said TNT Tropang GIGA head coach Chot Reyes.

This program aims to train talented career-driven basketball enthusiasts who will eventually become part of the coaching or management staff of TNT Tropang GIGA.

“We hope that through this program, we’ll be able to develop not only individuals but a whole new generation of professionals who can contribute to the well-loved industry of sports, particularly basketball,” said Ricky Vargas, Team Governor and Chairman of PBA Board of Governors.

Woman in sports

For its first run, it has welcomed Maureen Kris Belen to the training program.

“I am elated! It is still surreal up to this moment. As a true fan of the league, for me to be part of such a high-caliber team like TNT Tropang GIGA, is really a dream come true,” said Belen.

Belen admitted that it is not easy to be a woman in the industry. But instead of taking it as a setback, she used the challenges to improve herself. “The best thing about being a woman in this industry is that we tend to work harder than anyone in the room because the pressure is doubled, the purpose is bigger. You don’t just do it for yourself, but for all the women out there, that’s what makes it so rewarding,” she said.

A certified basketball coach, Belen is bringing to the table her experience from stints in the United Arab Emirates and in the Philippines. She managed sports events in Dubai before she kicked off her coaching career for a college basketball team in July 2017. She also coached the Philippine National Police Women’s Basketball Team in 2019 and became part of the on-ground management team for the basketball competition during the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

“As a player, I looked up to Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Tony Parker, Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, and Becky Hammon,” she said. “I was also inspired by remarkable coaches, like Gregg Popovich, Mike Krzyzewski, and of course, Coach Chot Reyes,” Belen added.

Everything has come full circle for Belen since she will be trained under Reyes, a seasoned coach in the PBA, who has led many teams to championships in the league.

Opening doors of opportunities

Through this program, TNT Tropang GIGA and Smart hope to open more doors and recognize the potential of professional male and female Filipinos in the sports industry.

“Sports is close to my heart. We can use a lot of the attributes that we learn in sports—teamwork, striving for excellence, achieving shared goals—in the corporate world.  How these values manifest in business and in sports may look very different, but the core philosophies and strategies are the same.  We owe it to basketball followers all over the country to acknowledge how vital the role of a leader on a sports team is to its overall success, and develop homegrown talent that demonstrates the right qualities,” said Al Panlilio, Smart Communications President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer.

Belen also thanked the TNT management and her mentor, Coach Reyes, for the opportunity. “This move will not just open windows, but big doors for all aspiring women. For a small player like me, it is true that you only need someone to believe in you to give you the breakthrough you have been praying for, and I have TNT to thank for that,” Belen said.