TOP high school teams take centerstage as the 2019 Chooks-to-Go/NBTC National Finals kicks off on Monday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The tournament features 32 teams, with 17 teams representing Luzon, five from Visayas, and four from Mindanao. There will also be a record six international teams taking take part in the tournament.
The UAAP champions NU Bullpups, led by Carl Tamayo, Gerry Abadiano and Terrence Fortea, are to become the first to win consecutive titles in the tournament’s 12-year history.
Standing in the Bullpups’ way are UAAP Season 81 runner-up Ateneo fronted by 7-foot-2 phenom Kai Sotto.
FilAm Sports led by Jalen Green also returns for a shot at the title.
Jeron Artest, son of former NBA star Metta World Peace, and Eli Ramos, brother of Cal Poly Pomona wingman Dwight Ramos, are also playing.
The NCAA 94 champion Mapua Red Robins are also in the field, led by Finals MVP Paolo Hernandez and spitfire guard Dan Arches.
NBTC Cebu champion Southwestern University-Phinma and second-placers University of San Juan-Recoletos are also vying for the title.
The tournament will begin with the seeding round on Monday followed by the first round of eliminations the next day.
The annual All-Star game featuring the nation’s best will take place on Saturday and the tournament final set on Sunday.
The semis, finals and the All-Star Game of the tournament sponsored by Chooks-to-Go, Darlington-Exped Socks, EPSON, Huawei, Freego, Purefoods, Gatorade, Go for Gold, SM and Molten, and presented by 5 Plus and Lighthouse Events will be aired live on ESPN5.
Last year, National U was crowned king of Division 1 while La Salle Lipa ruled Division 2.