DOMINATING his field this past UAAP Season 81, Kai Sotto silenced his doubters and earned UAAP Juniors Most Valuable Player honors with averages of 25.1 points, 13.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.6 blocks.
The 7-foot-1 center led the Ateneo Blue Eaglets to a runner-up finish to the National Univetrsity Bullpups, while taking the No. 1 spot in this year's Chooks-to-Go NBTC 24 high school basketball rankings.
Meanwhile, NCAA Season 94 Juniors MVP Joel Cagulangan snared the No. 2 spot after his on-court wizardry led La Salle Greenhills to a silver medal finish behind Mapua.
The 5-foot-9 court general was the anchor for the Greenies this season, netting 18.7 points, 7.1 assists, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.1 steals.
For the first time ever, the best high school players from the UAAP, NCAA, and CESAFI were ranked all year long, with the top players in the country, including those from MMBL, rightfully earning their spots in the yearly showpiece.
NU slotman Carl Tamayo, who was the rock in the Bullpups championship run in the UAAP, was ranked third after being named as the Finals MVP.
Do-it-all guard Mark Nonoy claimed four with his fantastic run with the UST Tiger Cubs, followed by NU Bullpups playmaker Gerry Abadiano at five.
FEU-Diliman gunner RJ Abarrientos wound up at sixth, followed by Hope Christian HS star Harvey Pagsanjan at seventh after his dynamic run in the MMBL.
Mapua captain Clint Escamis is at eight, Arellano slotman Aaron Fermin squeaked in at nine, with NU super scorer Terrence Fortea completing the top 10.
Forthsky Padrigao of Ateneo settled for 11th, followed by NCAA Finals MVP Paolo Hernandez of Mapua at 12th.
LSGH's defensive whiz Inand Fornilos ranked 13th, followed by top Cebuano bet Joshua Yerro of UV at 14th, and Adamson slasher Joem Sabandal at 15th.
The Final 24:
1. Kai Sotto, center, Ateneo
2. Joel Cagulangan, guard, La Salle Greenhills
3. Carl Tamayo, center, NU
4. Mark Nonoy, guard, UST
5. Gerry Abadiano, guard, NU
6. RJ Abarrientos, guard, FEU-Diliman
7. Harvey Pagsanjan, forward, Hope Christian
8. Clint Escamis, guard, Mapua HS
9. Aaron Fermin, center, Arellano
10. Terrence Fortea, guard, NU
11. Forthsky Padrigao, guard, Ateneo
12. Paolo Hernandez, guard, Mapua HS
13. Inand Fornilos, forward, La Salle Greenhills
14. Joshua Yerro, forward, UV
15. Joem Sabandal, guard, Adamson
16. Dan Arches, guard, Mapua
17. John Amores, forward, JRU
18. Mac Guadana, guard, Lyceum
19. Bismarck Lina, forward, UST
20. Joshua David, forward, La Salle Greenhills
21. Kevin Quiambao, center, NU
22. Jonnel Policarpio, forward, Mapua
23. Geo Chiu, center, Ateneo
24. Rafael Go, forward, Chiang Kai Shek
Sotto and Cagulangan will serve as the team captains in the annual NBTC All-Star Game later this month at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The two will pick their respective squads through a draft in what is one of the highlights in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go NBTC League National Finals from March 18 to 24.