The country’s top prep stars are set to take center stage again when the Seaoil National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) High School All-Star Game returns for its second year on Sunday, March 3, at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
30 of the top high school players in the country were selected to participate in this year’s showcase, which is patterned after the McDonald’s All-American Game in the US. Two-time UAAP juniors MVP Jerie Pingoy of FEU-Diliman leads the cast alongside NCAA MVP teammates Rey Nambatac and Bong Quinto of Letran and former UAAP finals MVP Ralph Atangan of National University.
Also making it into the Top 30 were Hope Christian High School’s Clint Doliguez, who scored 46 points in the Metro Manila Basketball League finals against San Beda, former national youth team members Mario Bonleon (La Salle Greenhills) and Kyles Lao (Xavier), and La Salle Greenhills big man Andre Paras, the son of PBA legend Benjie Paras.
St. John’s Institute guard Kib Montalbo, who has committed to play for the De La Salle Green Archers in the UAAP, was selected but had to beg off because of his preparation for an upcoming examination.
Rounding out the 22 players from Manila are Reggie Morido, Ralph Laurence Busa and Levi dela Cruz III of NU, Edralin Villanueva of Hope Christian, Jeson Delfinado and Roger Domingo Jr of FEU-Diliman, Robert Bolick of La Salle Greenhills, Axel Inigo of San Beda, Jon Macasaet of San Sebastian, Jeric Diego of Mapua, Kimlee Bayquin, Carlo Young and Wilson Bartolome of Chang Kai Shek, and Alwin John Margallo of Adamson.
Eight players from the provinces will also join the All-Star Game cast – Andres Paul Desederio of University of Visayas in Cebua, Arc Gabriel Araw-Araw of Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, Kraniel Villorio of West Negros University in Bacolod, Jehfer John Egan of St. Mary’s School in Cagayan De Oro, Bukidnon Faith Christian School’s Ricky Peromingan, Jeric Adorno from Sun Yat Sen in Iloilo, Yozi Manguilimotan of Davao’s Emar Learning Center and Raymond Andico of Southern City College in Zamboanga.
The two teams will be coached by champion mentors Britt Reroma of San Beda and Mike Oliver of FEU-Diliman.
The All-Star Game coincides with the Seaoil NBTC national finals, which will take place over the same weekend with games at the Philsports Arena and at Ynares.
“We’re really excited for this whole weekend. Meron tayong national finals ngayon. There will be 16 teams, four from Metro Manila and 12 who won their city championships and regional championship and have come here for this weekend,” said NBTC training director Alex Compton.
“The best young talent in the Philippines will be there. This all culminates in the All-Star Game,” he added.
“These are the kids you’re going to see in the UAAP and NCAA in the years to come.”
The NBTC, which is recognized by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas as the official high school grassroots program in the country, has made an effort to provide exposure to some of the best young talent from the provinces.
“Ang goal natin dito hindi lang showcase yung talent nung mga players na ito, kundi mabigyan ng opportunity ang mga players sa probinsya,” said NBTC program director Eric Altamirano. “Nung time namin, lagi na lang mga taga-Manila ang nabibigyan ng opportunity.”
“With the NBTC program, we made sure na kung ano ang training sa kanila, yun din ang training sa probinsya. For the last six years, nakikita natin na lumalapit na yung skills nung mga galing sa probinsya. I think that’s very good for Philippine basketball, not only on the high school level but also on the college and professional level. Sila yung mag-be-benefit later on.”
Last year’s game provided opportunities for players like Julius Cadavis of Cebu, who now plays in the NCAA, and other unheralded prospects like Mapua’s Ace Basas, who surprised with a 24-point performance to win MVP honors in the game.
“Julius Cadavis from Cebu was recruited from Arellano. We expect than number to increase (this year),” said Compton. “Ace Basas was under the radar. He was literally the last player to make the last 30, and he won MVP. He’s now playing in Ateneo.”
The representatives from Seaoil, meanwhile, reiterated their support to developing youth basketball in the country.
“Nung unang nagkausap kami, Seaoil and the group of coach Eric and coach Alex, we immediately felt that there is a perfect match,” said Seaoil marketing director Art Cruz. “Seaoil for the longest time has been promoting youth development. And that is aligned with our motto which is ‘fuelling a better future.’”
“Sports is one of our main thrusts and we’ll continue to support this program,” added Seaoil government affairs and institutional linkages manager Abigail Ho.
Some of the participating players expressed their excitement about playing in Sunday’s event, which will begin at 11 a.m.
“This is a huge honor to play up against such talented players. I just can’t wait for this coming All-Star Game to showcase our talents,” said Paras.
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