Two-time defending champion National University-Nazareth School and Pampanga Delta battle for a semifinals slot in the 2023 Smart-NBTC National Finals presented by SM after both claiming Division 1 Pool A wins against Level Up Team Abro-Davao, Thursday at SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Pampanga Delta blew out Level Up Team Abro, 94-63, on the back of a 40-point outing from Rhyle Melencio.
The no. 7-ranked HS player in the Philippines was unstoppable from all over, hitting 12 two-pointers, four three-pointers, and four free throws, while also collecting 12 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. In the first half, he outscored their opponents, 28-27, all by his lonesome.
“Siyempre, Division 1 kasi kami, so ayoko lang mapahiya,” he said. “Kaya sadyang kumpyansa kaming lahat. Sabi ni coach sa akin, wag daw akong mahiya, wag daw akong matakot.”
Melencio, who suited up for De La Salle Zobel before being called up to the Kapampangan crew, was backstopped by Joaquin Andrei de Leon who scored 12 points, while Doys Dungo and Michell Reyno added 10 markers apiece.
Later, the Bullpups dominated the Davaoeños, 89-71, with UAAP Season 85 Boys Basketball MVP Reinhard Jumamoy showing the way with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists.
Two other teammates joined him in double-digit scoring with Macmac Infanta and Jedric Solomon chiming in 15 and 10, respectively, as they raced off to a 7-0 start and never looked back.
“Malakas na team sila kaya paghahandaan namin sila bukas. Susundin lang namin yung game plan nina coach kasi alam naman naming ‘di sila basta-basta,” said Jumamoy of what’s next for the league titlists from 2018 to 2019.
“Nakalaban ko na NU sa UAAP at saka sa preseason, ‘di pa ako nananalo sa kanila, so gagawin ko lahat para manalo kami,” said Melencio.
Pampanga Delta and NUNS hold similar 1-0 slates heading into their can’t-miss contest on Friday still at the same venue. Only the top teams from each group advance to the semis of this tourney backed by Smart, SM, Strong Realty and Development Corp., Under Armour, and Molten.
Another semis berth will be contested by Fil-Nation Select-USA and Batang Tiaong-Quezon who both downed Pinoy Mavs-New Zealand in Pool D.
Jason Mandaquit showed the way for the Fil-Americans with 15 points in their 93-61 triumph over the Fil-Kiwis.
On the other hand, Batang Tiaong’s 67-53 victory vs. Pinoy Mavs was paced by Vhoris Marasigan’s 19 points, built on three triples, alongside five rebounds and two assists.
Mandaquit, Jacob Bayla and co. will get tested by the surprise contender from Quezon which sent Ateneo packing to Division 2 in the classification round of the biggest grassroots event also supported by Tecno, Regent, Rebisco, Jollibee, San Miguel Corp., Maynilad, Rebel Sports Pilipinas, MNL Kingpin, Gatorade, Swish App, Victory Liner, Jasper Jean, Darlington, Exped, Coach E Basketball School, Lighthouse Events, and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
In other Division 1 results, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (1-0) and Mapua (1-0) defeated Winnipeg-Canada (0-2) 100-79 and 81-77, respectively. The Magis Eagles and the Red Robins dispute the Pool C semis ticket, while the remaining berth will be decided between UST (1-0) and Toronto-Canada (1-0) in Pool B following their respective 77-47 and 70-63 decisions over Dubai Patriots (0-2).
Meanwhile, Division 2 action was top-billed by Don Bosco-Dumaguete’s cardiac 98-91 win against Team United-USA. Matthew Jucom waxed hot for the Grey Wolves with 34 points, including six triples, to go along with five rebounds and two steals.
The Fil-Americans, however, bounced back later with an 85-53 romp of Rome Elite-Italy to even their slate at 1-1. The Fil-Italians (0-1) now need to take down Don Bosco (1-0) to have a shot at the next round.
Ateneo and Doc Boleros-NCR will fight over another seat in the Division 2 semis after both put away Holy Trinity-General Santos (0-2). Lebron Nieto (21 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals) and Kristian Porter (19 points and 11 rebounds) bounced back as the Blue Eagles stamped their class on Holy Trinity, 77-58, while Sean Bondoc fired 31 big points as Doc Boleros gutted out a 66-61 win against the General Santos representatives.
In other Division 2 results, Homegrown-Australia (1-0) beat University of Luzon (0-1), 96-75; PCU Dasmarinas-Cavite (1-0) beat University of Luzon (0-2), 104-71; Team Tarlac (1-0) beat University of Batangas (0-1), 96-56; and Saint Benilde International School-Laguna (1-0) beat University of Batangas (0-2), 79-78.
All games will be livestreamed on Facebook on the NBTC, Smart Sports, and Puso Pilipinas pages.