The spotlight shone brightly on the next generation of basketball stars during the 2019 Chooks-to-Go NBTC League National Finals. For an entire week, the best high school players from across the country, including standouts from international teams, showcased their talent in front of a national audience.
Filipino-American Jalen Green, currently second in the ESPN recruiting rankings for the Class of 2020, was heralded as the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. His highlight dunks, acrobatic drives, and vastly improved outside shooting was on full display as the centerpiece of the FilAm Sports USA team. But aside from Green, there are a lot of noteworthy performances. Here are a few players, in no particular order, who stood out in the NBTC National Finals.
Terrence Fortea, Gerry Abadiano, Carl Tamayo (NU Bullpups)
The three-headed monster of Terrence Fortea, Gerry Abadiano, and Carl Tamayo led Nazareth School of National University to a historic second straight championship in the NBTC. These three Batang Gilas players, along with the rest of the Bullpups, were a cut above the rest. More than their overall talent, it was their chemistry and veteran prowess that made them undefeated throughout the tournament.
Fortea and Abadiano were both named part of NBTC's Mythical Team while Tamayo took home Finals MVP honors after putting up 24 points and 18 rebounds in NU's title-clinching win over La Salle Green Hills.
Kainoa Ballungay (FilAm Sports USA)
As much as Green was the showstopper of the tourney, Kainoa Ballungay also caught the attention of spectators with his non-stop energy on both ends of the floor. He's a tenacious rebounder and a hard-worker on defense on top of his high-leaping ability. In FilAm Sports' Supreme 16 matchup against the Ateneo Blue Eaglets, the 6-foot-7 center stood toe-to-toe against the 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto. His all-around efforts even got him a call-up in the All-Star game where he posted 16 points and five boards amidst the best high school players in the country.
Even though he's already headed to Cal State Stanislaus, a Division 2 school in the United States, he shared that playing in the Philippines one day remains an option.
Rhayyan Amsali and Tony Ynot (San Beda Red Cubs)
The San Beda Red Cubs offered a glimpse of how good they can be in the next NCAA season. Transferee Rhayyan Amsali emerged as a fearless scorer who also provides on-court leadership. A former NU Bullpup, Amsali normed 20.8 points in the tourney.
Tony Ynot, who received Best Defensive Player honors, earned great recognition after Green commended him, saying that the San Beda rookie was the player that he was most impressed with. A role player during the NCAA season, Ynot was one of the main defenders of Green as San Beda defeated FilAm Sports.
RJ Abarrientos (FEU Baby Tamaraws)
Fans also got to watch RJ Abarrientos' fourth-quarter brilliance. In FEU's first three games, he scored 41 of his 63 points all in the payoff period. Even though the Baby Tamaraws bowed out in the Fearless Four, he cemented himself as on one of the top guards in high school basketball.
The trailblazing guard tallied 25.3 points, anchored by 44 percent shooting from beyond the arc, en route to a Mythical Team selection.
Mclaude Guadana and John Barba (Lyceum Junior Pirates)
Lyceum's one-two punch of Mac Guadana and John Barba earned them a second place finish in Division 2.
Guadana, a member of Batang Gilas, is a floor general who does a little bit of everything for his squad. He averaged 19.2 points on 49 percent shooting 7.2 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.6 steals. Big man Barba, on the other hand, posted 21.2 points, mostly on putbacks and post moves. The two will be a force to be reckoned in Juniors Basketball.
Jiam Quiambao and Jolo Manansala (St. Augustine Institute of Pampanga)
St. Augustine Institute of Pampanga stole the show in the National Finals, winning Division 2 over Lyceum-Cavite. Brienne Angeles knocked down the go-ahead basket with a second remaining as Pampanga pulled off the thrilling win. However, it was the consistent play of Jiam Quiambao that catapulted Pampanga into the limelight. The do-it-all guard normed 25.5 points and 8.3 rebounds, and displayed his array of offensive skills throughout the week. Jolo Manansala, who earned Defensive Player honors, was a force in the shaded area and rebounding machine for St. Augustine. The ball always found its way through the hands of Manansala as he provided a ton of second-chance opportunities for his squad.
Ednor Akad (Holy Trinity College- GenSan)
Holy Trinity College's Ednor Akad also became a revelation in the tournament. He put up 16.0 points and 10.2 rebounds, helping General Santos barge into the Division 2 Fearless Four.
FEU's Abarrientos may be the 'king of the fourth' but Akad also showed his clutch genes for Holy Trinity College during the knockout phase. Whenever his team needed a basket, he would answer amidst tight defense from the opposition.
Cholo Anonuevo (Italy Europe Proudly Pinoy)
Joshua David (La Salle Green Hills)
Inand Fornilos (La Salle Green Hills)