WITH height comes might and in the UAAP 81 juniors' basketball tournament, towering teen Kai Sotto unleashed his full strength.
Now the season is over and done, it can be said that Sotto was the league’s leading scorer with 25.1 points per game, best rebounder with 13.9 boards per game, and most ferocious shot-blocker with 2.6 rejections per game.
He also showed improvement in playmaking by averaging 3.4 assists while also continuing his efficiency from the field where he made good on 56.6 percent of his shots as well as from the free-throw line where he converted 120-of-221 of his charities.
More than that, the 7-foot-2, 16-year-old only filled the leadership role for the Blue Eaglets left behind when all of SJ Belangel, Jason Credo, Dave Ildefonso, and Joaqui Manuel graduated.
Ateneo followed Sotto’s lead to a 11-3 record in the elimination round and to a second straight appearance in the championship round where they put up a good fight against eventual champion National U.
Of course, that gallant stand was made possible by the Season MVP who stands, quite literally, head and shoulders above everybody else.
With that, Sotto left no doubt as to his place at number one in the final rankings of the 2019 Chooks-to-Go/NBTC UAAP 24.
Just like he did in the MVP race, right behind Sotto was Mark Nonoy who capped off his sensational one-and-done season for UST High with the second spot in the UAAP juniors individual leaderboard.
Four players from the champion Bullpups then claimed half of the positions in the top eight with Finals MVP Carl Tamayo at third, team captain Gerry Abadiano at fifth, scoring dynamo Terrence Fortea at sixth, and burly big man Kevin Quiambao at eighth.
Rounding out the top 10 are FEU main man RJ Abarrientos (fourth), Adamson playmaker Joem Sabandal (seventh), Ateneo court general Forthsky Padrigao (ninth), and UST pillar Bismarck Lina (10th).
Here are the final rankings of the Chooks-to-Go/NBTC UAAP 24:
1. Kai Sotto (ADMU)
2. Mark Nonoy (UST)
3. Carl Tamayo (NU)
4. RJ Abarrientos (FEU)
5. Gerry Abadiano (NU)
6. Terrence Fortea (NU)
7. Joem Sabandal (AdU)
8. Kevin Quiambao (NU)
9. Forthsky Padrigao (ADMU)
10. Bismarck Lina (UST)
11. Adam Doria (AdU)
12. Ian Espinosa (ADMU)
13. Royce Alforque (FEU)
14. Andrey Doria (AdU)
15. Geo Chiu (ADMU)
16. AP Manlapaz (AdU)
17. Ivan Cudiamat (DLSZ)
18. Xyrus Torres (FEU)
19. Lance Jomalesa (DLSZ)
20. Bryan Sajonia (FEU)
21. Shane Dichoso (UE)
22. Ralph Labao (UPIS)
23. Jesse Sullano (UE)
24. King Vergeire (UPIS)
For the first time ever, there are three separate iterations of the NBTC 24 – one for the NCAA, one for the UAAP, and one for the CESAFI. Now all three iterations have been completed, a final list of the top 24 high school players from all of the Philippines will be revealed this week.
The final NBTC 24 will then be pitted against one another in the annual NBTC All-Star Game slated for March still at the MOA Arena.