US NCAA the priority, but Philippines still an option for Kamaka Hepa

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Mar 17, 2017 05:54 PM
US NCAA priority, but Philippines still an option for Hepa
HOMELAND. Kamaka Hepa is yet to decide on his future - but one thing's for sure, the Philippines is on his mind.

As it turns out, Filipino-American Kamaka Hepa had just gotten his US passport and his first trip abroad was to his father’s homeland.

The six-foot-nine 17-year-old and his team Filam Sports flew to Manila to take part in the 2017 National Basketball Training Center League National Finals.

Like many first-timers in the Philippines, Hepa was caught off-guard by the country’s humidity – even though he was also of Hawaiian descent. “It’s kinda like Hawaii, but hotter and humid so it’s been a big change especially coming from Oregon and Alaska. The weather has been a dramatic change, but I like it a lot,” he said.

More than the weather, however, the towering teen found Philippine basketball to be even hotter. “It’s a lot more aggressive and you can see the kids here playing with more heart because what they lack in height, they make up with heart. They’re really passionate about the game like that,” he said.

As such, without a doubt, Hepa found it easy to like his father’s homeland and its brand of basketball. “I know basketball here, like the PBA, is just as competitive (as in the US) because they play a lot harder,” he said.

However, the tantalizing talent isn’t rushing to establish his roots here just yet. According to him, he has offers from more than a few US NCAA Division 1 schools and he’s in the process of deciding what’s best for him.

Nonetheless, Hepa also acknowledged that there’s a chance – however small it may be – for him to move to the Philippines. “I haven’t really talked to my dad about it, but if the opportunity did come up, I’d have to take that into consideration,” he shared.

As per a report by, Hepa is yet to get hold of a Philippine passport. That may very well mean that he is ineligible to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas as international tournaments require players to have their country’s passport before turning 16.

Whatever is next for him, the Filipino-American knows exactly what he has to work on to be even more impressive. “Right now, I’m trying to build my body up. I don’t wanna be skinny so that when I have a mismatch, I can bring him to the post and just bang it in,” he said, sharing that his current weight of 216 lbs is still off from his ideal weight of 220 lbs.


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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