The Fearless Four cast of the 2019 Chooks-to-Go NBTC League National Finals presented by SM has been set.
After eight teams went head-to-head in the tournament's Fantastic Eight, only four teams remaining in the high school national championship. San Beda University Red Cubs pulled off a thrilling 98-91 victory over FilAm Sports USA to book the last ticket to the top four. They now face the NU Bullpups, the defending champions of the annual high school showcase.
"I want to thank the Lord for all the blessings he's given. And for the boys, you all saw the effort especially on defense," said San Beda coach Manu Iñigo. "It's really the effort, heart, and sticking to the game plan."
Rhayyan Amsali had 25 points as the Red Cubs survived a 39-point explosion from high-flyer Jalen Green. Rookie Tony Ynot chipped in with 16 points and he was one of the primary defenders of Green. The NCAA mainstays clamped down on the defensive end to make it a slow, grind-it-out contest. They held the Filipino-Americans to just 36 percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers.
The Bullpups meanwhile blasted Letran, 96-71, to enter the next round. Terrence Fortea fired his way to 21 points while collecting three boards, three dimes, and two steals. Carl Tamayo was efficient scoring 13 points in 16 minutes of action. The UAAP Season 81 title-holders are making their way to the semifinals with an average winning margin of 59.7 points.
In the other side of the bracket, it will be a matchup between the LSGH Greenies and FEU Baby Tamaraws. RJ Abarrientos was once again superb for Manila-based team as he unloaded 20 of his 32 points in the final quarter to get the 87-84 comeback victory over Durham Crossover Canada.
"That's RJ. You can count on him to deliver," beamed FEU head coach Allan Albano. Abarrientos single-handedly outscored their opponents, 20-17, in the fourth.
La Salle Green Hills was the first team to enter the Fearless Four after a 99-69 rout over Vancouver's Top Flight Hoops. Joshua David led the way with 23 points, three rebounds, and three assists while the duo of Inand Fornilos and RC Calimag combined for 25 points. Last season's NCAA runner-up has now been to the semifinals of the NBTC National Finals for the third year in a row.
In Division 2 basketball, Lyceum will take on Italy's Proudly Pinoy. The Junior Pirates topped St. Mary's College of Tagum, 93-61, while the Italian squad bested Sto. Domingo National HS from Legazpi, 83-75.
Holy Trinity-GenSan won over St. Louis School of Don Bosco-Dumaguete, 79-70 and will go up against St. Augustine Institute of Pampanga which took an 82-74 decision over First City Providential College-Bulacan.
Fans, however, will still get a chance to see the high-leaping Green at the NBTC All-Star Game on Saturday. Green, along with Jeron Artest and Kai Ballungay will boost Team Heart bannered by LSGH's Joel Cagulangan. As for the Kai Sotto-led Team Hustle, they'll be reinforced by Brandon Wilson also of FilAm Sports, Canada's Tyler Garcia, and Australia's Jasper Rentoy.
The week-long tourney is still free of admission, with fans needing just a valid ID to enter SM Mall of Asia Arena. The tournament semis and finals, alongside the annual All-Star Game, will be aired live on ESPN5.