NBTC reaching its ultimate conclusion
by rick olivares
The SM-National Basketball Training Center Regional Championships presented by Freego are fast closing in on its conclusion. At stake are slots to the national high school finals and the title of the best juniors team in the land.
The league, an official grassroots program of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, is now on its 10th year and has grown from being held in three cities to a record 62 all across the archipelago. It has gone from a mere basketball camp to a national high school championship with close to 700 teams competing. And that isn’t counting four foreign teams – one each from the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – all featuring Filipinos of foreign lineage taking part.
Edster Sy of sponsor Freego related his company’s patronage and support of the grassroots program. “It started with our company’s president and owner, Edward Tio, who used basketball as a means to gain a scholarship to Chiang Kai Shek College. And now he is giving it back with his support of not only his alma mater but also of Adamson and now the NBTC. It’s all about giving opportunities.”
Some of the teams that have advanced to the national finals include the Mapua Red Robins as the NCAA champion, the San Beda Red Cubs as the Metro Manila Basketball League champion, the unnamed UAAP champion, and representatives from the different regions.
Some schools such as the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod and Isabela College of Cauayan have likewise qualified to the finals in Manila for the first time in their history.
“We believe that this program is a very good one for talent identification not only for the national team but also for high schools and colleges across the country,” added NBTC founder Eric Altamirano. “Players like Roger Pogoy (who went on to fame with FEU) and Baser Amer (San Beda), and even coaches like Aldin Ayo who was with Sorsogon came up through the program.”
Added Altamirano, “The program, the finals, are also used by coaches to recruit for their schools. So this is a good program for all.”
The SM-NBTC National Championships will be played this coming March 13-16 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.