ATENEO Blue Eaglets’ Kai Sotto and La Salle Greenies’ Joel Cagulangan lead the cast of players seeing action at the 2019 National Basketball Training Center All-Star Game happening later this month.
The consensus top two juniors players in the land on the Chooks-to-Go/NBTC high school player rankings, Sotto will lead Team Hustle while Cagulangan banners Team Heart in the game to be played on March 23.
Number one-ranked Sotto, a staple in the country’s youth team, averaged 25.1 points, 13.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.6 blocks in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines this season and helped the Blue Eaglets to a runner-up finish. He, too, was adjudged Season 81 most valuable player.
Guard Cagulangan, for his part, was solid for La Salle Greenhills at the National Collegiate Athletic Association with numbers of 18.7 points, 7.1 assists, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals as they, too, ended runner-up this season and him winning the MVP award.
Joining Sotto at Team Hustle are Mark Nonoy (University of Santo Tomas), Gerry Abadiano (National University), Geo Chiu (Ateneo), Terrence Fortea (NU), Kevin Quiambao (NU), RJ Abarrientos (Far Eastern University-Diliman), John Amores (Jose Rizal University), Jonnel Policarpio (Mapua High School), Forthsky Padrigao (Ateneo), Bismarck Lina (UST), and Clint Escamis (Mapua). Coaching the team is Chris Gavina.
On Team Heart along with Cagulangan, meanwhile, are Carl Tamayo (NU), Inand Fornilos (LSGH), Joshua David (LSGH), Harvey Pagsanjan (Hope Christian), Joem Sabandal (Adamson), Aaron Fermin (Arellano), Paolo Hernandez (Mapaua), Dan Arches (Mapua), Joshua Yerro (University of Visayas), Mac Guadana (Lyceum), and Rafael Go (Chiang Kai Shek). Coach of the team is Charles Tiu.
“We will go to the NBTC All-Star Game fighting and looking to win,” said Sotto of the kind of mindset that his team will have for one of the marquee events of the NBTC League National Finals happening from March 18.
Incidentally, for the first time ever, the best high school players from the UAAP, NCAA, the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) and Metro Manila Basketball League were ranked all year long.
The NBTC League National Finals is presented in cooperation with Chooks-to-Go, Darlington-Exped Socks, EPSON, Huawei, Freego, Purefoods, Gatorade, Go for Gold, SM, and Molten, as well as by TV5 Plus and Lighthouse Events. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo