Biggest-ever NBTC set this season

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Durham Crossover of Canada and Trail International School of Thailand will become the first foreign teams ever to play in the National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) Division I championships set at the MOA Arena on March 13-17 as program director Eric Altamirano said yesterday this season is expected to involve 48 cities excluding NCR, 536 schools, 1,148 coaches and 8,580 players in the biggest coverage since its inception in 2007.

Altamirano, a former PBA coach who mentors the NU Bulldogs in the UAAP, said Durham Crossover will represent the North American Basketball Association whose commissioner Dr. Ron Damasco is coming with head coach Mike Cruz. The NBTC is strictly for high school players with an age limit of 18.  NCAA and UAAP junior teams are included. NCAA and other NCR schools play in the Metro Manila Basketball League (MMBL) which serves as the qualifying tournament for the region. The UAAP juniors champion is automatically seeded in the 12-team Division I tournament.

“One of the things that makes the NBTC unique and meaningful is its emphasis on values, explained Altamirano. “The heart of the league is found in its slogan ‘Developing Skills, Building Character and Raising Leaders.’ This is not lip service, not something to just tickle the ears. The NBTC emphasizes this in a variety of ways, perhaps most noticeably in its commitment to develop the skills and values of coaches. Every year, a large coaches convention is held to kick off the NBTC season. It’s mandatory for all NBTC head coaches to attend the event and it’s open to the assistants as well.”

To inaugurate this season, the coaches convention was held at the Meralco Gym last Oct. 27-30 with an audience of over 1,000. The gathering featured 10 speakers –Tim Cone on different scoring options, Norman Black on rebounding, Tab Baldwin on changing halfcourt defenses, Boris Aldeguer on building a high school basketball program, Kirk Collier on individual skills development, Dr. Rey Canlas on sports psychology, Harvie Baron on nutrition, Ado Bernardo on organizational leadership, Chappy Callanta on strength and conditioning for basketball and Anthony Pangilinan on leadership.

“Our coaches convention offers the best teaching in the country,” said Altamirano. “This season, our speakers shared their knowledge and insights. Coaches then leave this enriching experience and go back to their respective teams in the province, equipped to teach, lead and inspire their players like never before.”

Altamirano said there are two phases leading to the two-tier national championships. The first is the local city level where each city or province conducts a tournament. The second is the regional level where the champions from each city/province play in a knockout phase against teams from other cities/provinces. Regional winners advance to the national championships where Metro Manila teams are allotted slots from the MMBL qualifiers. The national championships will bring in 12 teams in Division I and 12 teams in Division II.

The Division I teams are the UAAP champion, the MMBL champion and runner-up, the champions from Cavite, Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Zamboanga, Davao and Cagayan de Oro, Durham Crossover and Trail International School. The Division II teams are the winners of Tarlac/Olongapo/Zambales, Urdaneta/Pangasinan/La Union/Baguio/Vigan, Tuguegarao/Isabela, Malolos/Hagonoy/San Fernando/Angeles, Batangas/Quezon, Naga/Camarines Sur/Legazpi/Sorsogon/Catanduanes, Palawan, Sta. Rosa/San Pablo/Calamba/Biñan, Iligan/Bukidnon/Butuan/General Santos and Tawi-Tawi/Zamboanga Sibugay. Two slots are reserved for the top two finishers of Ormoc/Tacloban/Bohol/Dumaguete/Mandaue/Cebu.

Altamirano started the NBTC with training director Alex Compton, now coaching Alaska in the PBA. “For the last nine years, the NBTC has produced outstanding players who have moved on and made a name in basketball,” said Altamirano. “Alex and I are motivated to continue this program every year because we want to help more kids achieve their dreams through sports. Some of them will not get to play in the UAAP or NCAA but the values that they learn from the program are invaluable. We are looking forward to seeing the next Baser Amer and L. A. Revilla.”

Among the NBTC alumni are Art de la Cruz, Glenn Khobuntin, Jeron Teng, Terrence Romeo, Kiefer Ravena, Von Pessumal, Kevin Alas, Scottie Thompson, Russell Escoto, R. R. Pogoy, Kevin Ferrer, Mike Tolomia, Gelo Alolino, Ian Sangalang and Troy Rosario.

Altamirano said Compton’s success in the PBA has given more prominence to the NBTC. “Alex plays an important role,” he said. “We worked together to build this program from scratch. His success with Alaska will not only add credibility to the program but also inspire coaches and young players to play the right way. Alex always reminds his team to ‘Honor The Game and Play Together.’ We expect these coaches to lead by example, to be good role models to the kids they’re coaching.”

For the first time in the NBTC’s history, the SM Group will be a major partner. “SM’s sponsorship is huge in terms of developing our nationwide youth grassroots program,” said Altamirano. “This is the first time SM will sponsor the NBTC. We’re glad that SM shares our vision of developing skills, building character and raising future leaders through these young basketball players and coaches nationwide. SM is committed to help the NBTC build awareness and means to sustain its various programs over the long run. It’s a great honor for the NBTC to partner with a name as highly esteemed as that of SM. The NBTC is fully invested in its vision of developing skills.”

SM Lifestyle Entertainment president Edgar Tejerero said, “SM is very proud to support the NBTC. SM believes in creating opportunities for the Filipino to realize his or her full potential through actively involving our company in sports development.”

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