It’s no wonder that every summer, for the last 3 years, he has hosted the Passion Basketball Camp (formerly Rob Labagala Basketball Camp) in Navotas, where he’s currently residing.
The current Tropang TNT reserve guard said seeing kids learn the fundamentals of the sport he has learned to love with a passion, gives him great satisfaction because he believes that they are the next generation of PBA stars.
In fact, he recalled that as a grade schooler, he joined basketball camps back in his native Cebu. Just having a free shirt or basketball and a chance to learn from local Cebuano coaches already gave him so much joy.
Over the years, through hardwork and the guidance of his coaches, Labagala managed to reach his dream of playing in the PBA.
He helped UE reach the Final Four during his final year in 2006 where the Red Warriors lost to eventual champion University of Santo Tomas, played in various commercial leagues for the next 4 years, before joining the PBA in 2010.
While he was unknown by the time he joined the PBA draft, Ginebra took the gamble and selected on the 5-foot-7 Labagala as its 12th overall selection.
Labagala was seldom-used since he had to compete for playing time with Ginebra’s established backcourt stars of Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand along with several guards that came and went from 2010-2014.
The wealth of experience he gained through the years intensified his passion to give-back to kids.
Just this April 2016, aside from kicking off his annual basketball camp for kids ages 7 to 16, he also started conducting basketball camps in selected SM branches.
Over the past 2 weeks, Labagala has taught the basics of basketball at SM Marilao and SM Baliwag with his former University of the East teammate and current Rain or Shine guard Paul Lee, along with Billy Mamaril of GlobalPort, joining him and lending their expertise. Mamaril was his teammate before at Ginebra.
“Nagbigay sila ng speech and nag-share sila ng experience at inspiration at the same time sa mga bata. Then, nagturo din sila ng mga drills. Nakakatuwa,” said the 31-year-old Labagala, who also runs a cake shop called Little Rob’s Cake Shop in Navotas.
Labagala said it is a given fact that they won’t be playing in the PBA forever, which is why he has started holding camps like this to train and prepare the next generation of Pinoy hoopsters.
Like seeds that are planted today, Labagala’s initiative will surely grow as these kids benefit from the inspiration, vision-casting and impartation they are currently receiving from their coaches.
And who knows, from his camp will come the next big stars of the PBA.
Labagala’s next basketball camp is on May 7, 2016 at SM Valenzuela. For more information, you can check his Facebook account at https://web.facebook.com/roberts.labagala?fref=ts