JAIME Vittorio (JV) Papa is one of those kids dreaming to make it big in basketball, but he literally stands out. At 14 years old, the Fil-Italian already stands 6-foot-6. At his current growth pace, he's expected to be a seven-footer by age 17.
There's just one problem.
Papa, who picked up basketball four years ago, is a Grade 8 student at Pasay Christian High School, which, unfortunately, doesn't have a basketball program.
“So right now, he’s just attending basketball clinics and playing on his own,” said Doc Ivy Bautista, the former Columbian Dyip assistant manager who is currently helping Papa find a school that has a long-term basketball program.
Papa previously worked out under the watchful eyes of the coaching staff of Columbian Dyip, but briefly stopped attending practices as the Dyip are now focused on a last-ditch push for a playoffs berth in the PBA Philippine Cup.
“The plan now is to hire a training and conditioning coach to train him the whole summer,” said Bautista.
JV's father is Italian and mother is Filipina Lilia Travina from Iloilo City, a registered civil engineer and presently working as operations director of Bison Management Corp.
“He got interested in the sport at the age of 10,” said Bautista, noting five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo began to play the game at 14-15 years old.
“Raw pa yung talent, but meron namang galaw. He’s a work in progress,” said Bautista. “Sayang kasi yung height niya and his mother herself wanted to see him represent the country someday.”
The good news is, there are a lot of schools and programs out there that can unleash the potential of young players. And we're sure they're more than willing to take a risk of a 6-foot-6 diamond in the rough.
Good luck, kid.