Tuesday, January 3, 2012

High School Elite

Scouting for high school talent for a university or college basketball program is a tough gig in the Philippines.

Sure in Manila, you have UAAP/NCAA high school affiliates and other leagues like the Tiong Lian, but the province are a different thing entirely. This isn't the US where everybody is ranked, where YouTube highlight reels can be Googled, and where you can record out of state high school games. Legwork and connections therefore are key. You have to head out to all these little gyms based on recommendations from alumni living in the area to see if you have a diamond in the rough. And even then, it's hard to tell if you have a legit gamechanger, or someone who's merely dominating inferior opposition, but can't make the leap.

One group trying to change all that is the National Basketball Training Center, headed up by program director Eric Altamirano. After five years of existence, the Sea-Oil NBTC Elite League is now run in 17 cities with almost 5,000 participants, scattered across 139 schools. That's a huge improvement from when there were just 100 boys in their first year, based in Manila, Cebu and Davao.

"The Seaoil NBTC Elite League provides a competitive environment where the skills of the kids are developed and honed. We also teach them strategies and one facet of the game that is often overlooked – mental preparedness. The workshops are specifically designed not only with basketball in mind but also in imparting life’s values and character building. We believe in the holistic formation of a person,” said Altamirano.

And for the first time, the NBTC will be introducing the Seaoil High School All-Star Game, patterned after the McDonald's All-American High School Basketball Games of the US. The latter is known to be a must-watch affair in America, with nearly all the players becoming big names in the (US) NCAA. Just to give you an idea, the 2010 game had Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight, Tristan Thompson and Harrison Barnes go up against Kyrie Irving, Perry Jones III, Kendall Marshall and Jared Sullinger.

National Training Director Alex Compton added, "The Sea Oil High School All-Star Game will close out the year’s Seaoil NBTC Elite League in the first week of March 2012 following the National Finals. People from all over the country will also get to follow their respective players on television as the All-Star Game will be televised on AKTV.”

San Beda Red Lion Baser Amer and FEU Tamaraws Terrence Romeo are both products of the NBTC, so you know they're doing something right.

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