FORMER San Sebastian star Ian Sangalang and other former collegiate stars now playing in the PBA honor their roots on Friday when they grace the opening of the 2015 Seaoil-National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) National High School Championships at the Ynares Sports Arena.
Aside from Sangalang, others making their respective schools proud with their presence are Kevin Alas (Letran), Terrence Romeo (Far Eastern University), and Jeric Teng (University of Santo Tomas).
Current UAAP stalwarts Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo and Jeron Teng of De La Salle will also grace the inaugural rites of the tournament backed by the MVP Sports Foundation and serving as the official grassroots development program of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
Baser Amer (San Beda), Arnold Van Opstal (De La Salle), Scottie Thompson (Perpetual Help), Art dela Cruz (San Beda), Roldan Sara (San Beda), Troy Rosario (National University), Von Pessumal (Ateneo), Mike Tolomia (Far Eastern University), Glenn Khobuntin (National University), and Gelo Alolino (National University) will likewise be present during the opening ceremonies.
To be honored by the tournament are the pioneering efforts of businessman-sportsman Joel Lopa, president of Tao Corporation and Nokia Philippines, in bankrolling the NBTC program and sponsoring the U-16 and U-18 national youth teams in 2007-09, and the achievement of Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 2014 Mary Jean Lastimosa.
“It always feels great to be reunited with young, outstanding players who first showcased their skills and talent in our backyard before moving on to bigger things,” said NBTC program founder Eric Altamirano.
“What they accomplished here will serve as inspiration for this generation of high school stars and the next as they thread the path blazed by their predecessors.”
The top 18 high school teams nationwide, four of them representing the National Capital Region (NCR), advanced to the national finals set March 6-8 in three different venues – Meralco gym, Ynares Sports Arena, and Philsports Arena.
Among the teams who made it this far are Assumption College (Davao), Southern City College (Zamboanga), St. John’s Institute (Bacolod), St. Roberts International School (Iloilo), Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, Sacred Heart of Jesus Montessori (Cagayan de Oro), and Maryhill College (Lucena).
Completing the cast are University of Perpetual Help System (Binan), Naga City Montessori, Lyceum (South Cavite), University of Cordilleras (Baguio), Castillejos National High School (Zambales), Infant Jesus Learning Center for Academic Studies (San Fernando), Gerona Institute (Tarlac), and National Capital Region qualifiers Chiang Kai Shek College, National University, San Beda Red Cubs, and San Beda B.
Divided into six groups with teams from each pool playing one round, the top six teams advance to the next round, with the qualifiers from Groups A, B, and C in one pool and those from Groups D, E, and F in another for a single-round play.
The top teams from either pool then meet in the championship.