Sport

6 international teams banner NBTC National Finals

6 international teams banner NBTC National Finals

MANILA, Philippines – It doesn’t get any bigger than this. The Philippines’ annual high school version of the American March Madness and the All-Star Game is here.

The 12th Chooks to Go NBTC National Finals presented by SM will contested by 16 provincial teams — eight teams from National Capital Region-based schools, six international teams and two wildcard entries from March 18-24 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Squads from the US (FilAm Sports USA), Vancouver (Top Flight Hoops) and Toronto (Durham Crossover) in Canada, New Zealand (Camp David), Australia (AusPinoy) and first timers Italy (Team Italy Europe) will bring their contingent of Filipinos born overseas. 

In recent years, the country has been treated to the burgeoning talent of Canada’s Matthew Daves (now playing for Ateneo de Manila University), Kamaka Hepa (now representing the University of Texas Longhorns), Jalen Green (who made a huge splash for the US Under-17 national team in the FIBA U-17 World Cup and is now with Prolific Prep in California), and Kihei Clark (now point guard for the University of Virginia Cavaliers).

Other teams included in the National Finals include UAAP champions Nazareth School of National University, NCAA champion Malayan University, MMBL champions San Beda University, NBTC Cebu champions Southwestern University, Ateneo de Manila University, La Salle Greenhills, University of San Jose Recoletos, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, as well as NBTC regional champions St. Augustine Pampanga, Southern Philippines Colleges of Cagayan de Oro, St. Mary’s College of Tagum in Davao del Norte, University of Perpetual Help System Jonelta, St. Louis of Don Bosco in Dumaguete, STI-West Negros University out of Bacolod, Sto. Domingo National High School based in Legazpi, Narvacan National High School in Candon, University of Baguio, Isabela College of Cauayan, Lyceum of the Philippines University in Cavite, Sta. Clarita International School in Iloilo, Dolores National High School in Eastern Samar, Zamboanga del Sur National High School, and Holy Trinity College from General Santos City. The two wild cards teams are Hope Christian High School and FEU-FERN.

Nazareth School of National University will get to defend the Division One national championship that they won last season against LSGH, while Division Two will crown a new champion as La Salle Lipa, which won at the expense of Bataan last year, did not advance to the big dance.

“We have seen the National Finals grow by leaps and bounds in our 12-year history,” said NBTC Program Director Alex Compton. “Not only in the number of competing teams and how it has become a showcase for all our high school and international talent, but also in terms of the National Finals become a major sporting event in the country. Every high school cager has dreams of making it to the National Finals and the All-Star Game.”

Among the highlights of the weeklong National Finals is the High School All-Star Game that will be held on March 23, and the Coaches Convention that will be held from March 22-24. 

Kai Sotto, who topped the Chooks to Go NBTC 24 Final Rankings, will lead a field for the All-Star Game that includes LSGH’s Joel Cagulangan, NU’s Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano and UST’s Mark Nonoy. 

Sponsors for the Chooks to Go NBTC National Finals presented by SM include Exped, Freego, Purefoods, Go for Gold, Gatorade, Huawei, Molten, Epson, Arbiel Bus Line, Victory Liner and Delta Neo Solutions.