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Basketball

Start filling up your brackets as NBTC National Finals set to open curtains


The top high school teams in the country and four international selections from USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, are set vie for the National Championship when the 2018 Exped SM SM-National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) National Finals, presented by Chooks-to-Go, rolls in from March 18 to March 23.

Drawing a total of 835 teams across 76 cities nationwide, which featured over 12,000 players, the 32 best teams remain as they dispute the right to be called the best high school team in the Philippines.

“This is our eleventh year, and it is extremely gratifying that we have become a top event in the Philippine sports landscape,” said NBTC program director head Eric Altamirano.

Champions and runner-ups of the UAAP, NCAA, MMBL, and CESAFI are already seeded in the first eight slots.

Also seeded at 17 to 24 are the top eight regional champions from last year’s NBTC tournament, all of whom are waiting for their opponents in the first round.

This is where the fun begins, as the remaining 16 teams will have to go through the seeding round first before entering the first round.

The four international teams — namely from Canada, USA, Australia, and New Zealand — will be drawing their slots from 9 to 12, while the same will be the case for the four NCR Wildcard teams, which will draw from spots 13 to 16. They will face each other in the seeding round in these pairings: 9 vs 16; 10 vs 15; 11 vs 14; and 12 vs 13.

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That will also be observed for the remaining eight regional champions, which will also draw their spots from 25 to 32, and face each other off in the seeding round in these pairings: 25 vs 32; 26 vs 31; 27 vs 30; and 28 vs 29.

The winners of the seeding round, scheduled on March 18, will claim the higher seed in their duel, while the loser takes the lower seed, as all advance to the first round.

And then, the madness begins.

The first round begins the do-or-die knockout phase, with the winners advancing deeper in the Division 1 tournament from March 19 up to the National Finals on March 23.

First round losers, meanwhile, will still have a chance to make their mark, as they will play in the Division 2 tournament, with the same knockout format being observed.

“If there’s anything about the SM NBTC tournament that I want to stress and point out, it is growth,” shared Altamirano. “We started this as a program to grow the sport of basketball and help the kids grow. After all, we also like to say that we are building leaders and communities.

“We at NBTC closely mirror that as well. We have grown from a few cities to a nationwide program, and now, an international one as well,” he added.

The action-packed week will culminate on March 23 at the Mall of Asia Arena, with the All-Star Games and the championship game for the two divisions.

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