By Alder Almo, special to NBA.com Philippines
MANILA, Philippines – Rajon Rondo has left his footprint here and is now looking forward to coming back next year.
The Boston Celtics’ point guard capped his whirlwind three-day visit in the country by putting on the final touches of a refurbished basketball court at the San Juan National High School gym on Wednesday.
Rondo led the ceremonial painting of the Seal of the City of San Juan with Rep. JV Ejercito, Mayor Guia Gomez, Vice Mayor Francis Zamora and Councilor Angelo Agcaoili. He also distributed basketballs to the youth of the local community.
"Spending time with the people of San Juan is one of the best moments of my trip to the Philippines," Rondo said. "It was a humbling experience. I feel blessed."
The “Manila Got Wings” project was patterned after his own “Boston Got Wings” project, wherein he donated $500 for every steal he recorded last season. He totaled 153 cookies in 68 games, which amounted to $76,500. Out of that amount, 13 basketball courts throughout the city were refurbished.
The 6-foot-1 playmaker, who came with small entourage that included his mother Amber, brother Williams and personal trainer Doug Bibby, enjoyed his brief stay in the country that he wanted to return next year.
“I never realized how popular I am here. I would like to come back next year,” said Rondo, who went out of his original Asian leg tour schedule just to check out the basketball-crazy Filipinos.
Rondo sized up the local talents here on Tuesday in a closed-door session at the Ronac Art Center gym with selected players from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP). Among the top collegiate players who participated in the skills clinic were Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena, Letran’s Kevin Alas, Jose Rizal's Nate Matute, Perpetual Help’s Jett Vidal and San Beda’s Baser Amer.
From San Juan National High School, Rondo went straight to the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City to catch the UAAP game between five-peat seeking Ateneo Blue Eagles against Far Eastern University Tamaraws.
He will fly to Hong Kong tomorrow for the last stop of his King of the Rock Asian Tour.
Photo above shows (left) Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo donating a basketball to former De La Salle University basketball player and now San Juan Vice Mayor Francis Zamora and (right) refurbishing a basketball court in the city assisted by RSA-Titan's Rely San Agustin. (Photo by Alder Almo)
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