By: Rom Anzures
Raffy Celis, a 19-year-old forward from Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, may have fallen short of making it to the finale of the Smart-NBTC National Finals, but he still managed to leave his mark on the tournament.
He consistently put up impressive numbers throughout the competition, including a 25-point, 11-rebound game against Winnipeg Canada; and 11 points and nine rebounds against Rome Elite Italy.
He then had a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds in the double-overtime tournament semis against National University Nazareth School.
In total, Celis averaged an impressive 17.3 points and 10.0 rebounds in the tournament, earning him recognition as one of the best Filipinos playing in the class of 2023.
For Celis, the opportunity to compete against the best players in the country was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“It’s so great kasi once in a lifetime lang ito eh, it’s a great experience,” Celis said.
The grade 12 senior also played a pivotal role in helping the Magis Eagles win the CESAFI championship last year, and he was grateful for the exposure and recognition that the tournament provides for high school basketball players.
Despite his impressive showing, Celis has yet to decide where he will be playing once he enters the collegiate ranks. He has already received offers from several schools in both the UAAP and the NCAA.
“Sa ngayon, ‘di pa committed, pero marami ‘rin, Ateneo, La Salle, UST, at Benilde,” he bared.
Celis’s performance in the Smart-NBTC National Finals has firmly established him as one of the rising stars of Philippine basketball. With his skills and potential, he is sure to be a valuable addition to any college that is lucky enough to have him on its roster.