Joel Cagulangan and his side will have their hands full against Kai Sotto and his crew when the Darlington-National Basketball Training Center High School Presented by Chooks-to-Go All-Star Game rolls around on March 23 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
La Salle Green Hills coach Marvin Bienvenida made his star guard Cagulangan as the first overall pick in the High School All-Star Draft on Thursday, as the NCAA Season 93 Finals MVP spearheads Team Cherifer Heart, coached by Chris Gavina.
On the other hand, Ateneo coach Joe Silva had no second thoughts centering his squad around 15-year-old prodigy Kai Sotto, as the UAAP Season 80 Finals MVP leads Team Cherifer Hustle, coached by Topex Robinson.
The annual High School All-Star Game will serve as the culmination of the eight-week Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24 ranking process, where coaches, sportswriters, and a statistician determined the best 24 high school players in the country in the UAAP, NCAA, CESAFI, MMBL, and FCAAF tournaments.
Joining Cagulangan in Team Cherifer Heart are Aaron Fermin of Arellano, L-Jay Gonzales of FEU-Diliman, Dave Ildefonso of Ateneo, Warren Bonifacio and Clint Escamis of Mapua, John Galinato of Chiang Kai Shek, Inand Fornilos of La Salle Greenhills, Evan Nelle of San Beda, Raven Cortez of La Salle Zobel, and Biern Laurente and Joshua Yerro of UV.
“Mostly, my backcourt can play multiple positions. Their roles varies, may it be to get ready to shoot or get the ball down. They’re versatile,” said Bienvenida. “Bottomline, they’re fast, they defend well on perimeter, and we have good anchors in our big men.”
Meanwhile, pairing up with Sotto in Team Cherifer Hustle are Ateneo teammate SJ Belangel, Will Gozum of Mapua, RJ Abarrientos of FEU-Diliman, CJ Cansino of UST, Rhayyan Amsali, Terrence Fortea, and Miguel Oczon of NU, Harvey Pagsanjan of Hope Christian, Joem Sabandal of Adamson, Mac Guadaña of Lyceum, and Alex Visser of Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu.
“It’s a mixture of defense and offense, and I stuck with defense first,” said Silva. “In the end, nakakuha naman ako ng offensive players.”
The 2017-18 National Basketball Training Center season is proudly sponsored by Chooks-to-Go, Darlington, Cherifer, Petron, Akari, Hino Motors, Freego Jeans, and Exped Socks.