MANILA, Philippines – The National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) continues to raise the level of Philippine juniors basketball as it will hold its 2018 National Championships on Sunday, March 18 to Friday, March 23 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
In partnership with SM, the 11th NBTC season will showcase the talents of 32 high school teams that were gathered from over 80 cities, which will estimate around 10,000 players from all over the country.
"If there’s anything about the SM-NBTC tournament that I want to stress and point out, and this is a point that is often glossed over, it is growth. We started this as a program to grow the sport of basketball and help the kids grow," said Program Director Eric Altamirano.
NBTC has evolved from merely including 3 cities and has now been inviting overseas Filipino teams from Canada, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and the US who will all be participating in this year's national championships.
"This is our 11th year, and it is extremely gratifying that we have become a top event in the PH sports landscapes," said Altamirano.
With the expansion of NBTC, this season will present a new format, patterned after the US NCAA March Madness as the teams will face each other in knockout matches.
"So the best way to come up with a very good tournament format is through this bracketing. It gives a lot of excitement, anticipation, and it gives a big chance for small schools," said Altamirano.
There will be 8 seeded teams. These are: UAAP Juniors Champions Ateneo Blue Eaglets, NCAA Juniors title holders La Salle Greenies, University of Visayas, Chiang Kai Shek College, National University, Malayan University, Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu and San Beda College.
The week-long #MadnessInMOA will begin with a seeding round on Sunday, March 18 followed by the Round of 32 for Division 1 on Monday, March 19.
Tuesday, March 20 will be the "Sweet 16" rounds for both Divison 1 and 2, while the knockout matches for the "Elite 8" will continue on Wednesday, March 21.
The SM-NBTC 3x3 basketball segment will also be held on Wednesday.
The Final 4 will begin on Thursday, March 22 and the games will culminate on Friday, March 23 with the All-Star games of both divisions.
Aside from giving more exposure to the high school teams, NBTC aims to produce alumni like Troy Rosario and Jeron Teng who have now taken their talents to the PBA and Gilas Pilipinas.
"Maybe in the 15th year, you’ll see the PBA populated by former NBTC players, and you’ll be able to remember 5 years from now when you watched the national finals here," said Alaska Aces head coach and NBTC co-founder Alex Compton.
"As an alumnus of NBTC, I can really say that it helped me a lot to become the player I am today," said Teng.
"There [are] a lot of schools who aren’t part of NCAA and UAAP juniors. From where I came from in high school, in Xavier, we didn’t have any big tournaments. So I think [NBTC] gave me the opportunity to showcase what I have," Teng added. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.