SEVEN overseas squads from six countries will travel to Manila next year to slug it out against the best local squads in the 2023 SM NBTC National Championship.

PBA Manitoba and Toronto from Canada, USA’s Team United, Rome Elite, Italy’s Crusaders, New Zealand’s Pinoy Mavs and UAE’s Dubai Patriots reigned supreme in their respective regional qualifiers to advance in the tournament slated in April 2023.

“This is another step forward in our efforts to go back to grassroots basketball for all Filipinos all over the world. This is a good sign that Filipino talent abroad continues to do well,” said NBTC program director Eric Altamirano.

The National Basketball Training Center program (NBTC) has featured the likes of Jalen Green, now a star for the Houston Rockets in the NCAA, and Kai Sotto from the Adelaide 36ers in the Australia National Basketball League (NBL), in its past editions.

Kihei Clark of 2019 US NCAA champion Virginia along with Ateneo’s Kai Ballungay and San Beda’s James Kwekuteye of San Beda had also stamped their class in the past for overseas squads in the NBTC.

“Hopefully, this is just the start for the NBTC Global Games. Moving forward, we want more teams to join their respective tournaments, and even more countries to organize their own Global Games,” added Mr. Altamirano.

The overseas teams composed of Filipino-foreign cagers will have their mettle tested against high school champions from the UAAP, NCAA and other leagues nationwide.

They qualified through the NBTC Global Games that were held in different countries this year while a series of local qualifiers across all regions is scheduled to run this month until November featuring over 100 teams.

A total of 24 basketball teams, including clubs this time as NBTC moves away from school-based squads, as the prestigious high school championship tourney will mark its return for the first time amid the pandemic. — John Bryan Ulanday