Sports Eye

Starting ‘em young

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr

DESPITE our debacle in the World Cup this year placing 32nd and last in the overall standing, our bias for basketball is endless. Filipinos continue to favor the sport that James Naismith created.  Perhaps basketball world leaders saw the opportunity to help sustain Filipinos love for the game, decided to make us host the 2023 edition. It was a decision that warmed the cockles of the hearts of national basketball leaders headed by SBP’s top honcho Manny V. Pangilinan.

For this, our SBP regional czar Dr. Edilberto R. Abalos stays on to promote the sport loved by the masses and heads the on-going province wide SM-NBTC leagues, a tourney exclusively for high school students.  The NBTC Dagupan City area tournament just concluded last October 26 at Divine Word Academy Gym won by the University of Luzon (UL) boys of Dagupan City’s alderman Chito Samson now under the tutelage of Gilmark Meneses.


I failed to attend the semis held in the morning but table officials Lyca Cayabyab and Gerald Barrinuevo handed me the official results quarter-by-quarter as I entered the gym: UL repulsed arch-rival Lyceum Northwestern University (LNU), 78-71, while Dagupan City National High School (DCNHS) clobbered the defending champion Pangasinan Merchant Marine Academy (PAMMA), 98-64. Both victors enter the championship knockout match.

It was a one sided first quarter affair in the championship game with UL key players Jefryo Operania and Palisoc (I forgot his first name) who alternately paced the tempo to wallop DCNHS, 25-11. But the DCNHS boys found their rhythm in the second canto with its wily guard 17 year-old Arnold de Guzman who orchestrated 20-11, scoring 14 marks alone to trail by five points, 36-31.

The third period turned to be scary for UL as DCNHS jumpstarted the pace and engineered a 15-2 romp to wrest the front by three points, 46-43, two minutes before the end of the third. But eventually DCNHS succumbed to the more trained UL boys inspired by the presence of their school’s sports director and well-known college basketball mentor, Jack Vidal.

I doff my hat to Abalos for leading the development of these young boys. Who knows, some participants of this league might reach their ultimate goal, to be a PBA player someday like Bautista-native CJ Perez. Eleven years ago, NBTC has been one constant bright light for our young cagers in local sports. It is the quintessential representation of what is Filipino in sports. Although raw, it’s creative, intense, graceful and unpredictable. NBTC was not only accepted by the schools but grew, developed, prospered, attracting young generations of followers.

From Dagupan City, NBTC shifts its course to Lingayen area on November 8. Abalos said after Lingayen, the most likely venue will be Alaminos City area for the western part. And after Alaminos it will be Bayambang-Malasiqui area for central and finally the Urdaneta-Manaoag area for the eastern part. Abalos said the champions in these areas will battle the winners of La Union, Ilocos Sur and Norte for the regional crown. Whoever wins the regional joust will battle all the Luzon area winners for the Luzon title. The Luzon titlist will play against the winners of Visayas and Mindanao areas. 

The main objective of the league is to start developing the young ones en route to their final goal. Yes, that’s the best way to basketball stardom and NBTC is the starting point.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers.1TIMOTHY 1: 9

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