The National Basketball Training Center is like the graduation day for junior basketball players in the country.
Usually taking place after the boys’ basketball season of the top collegiate leagues, it is the last tournament played by seniors before heading to college.
But getting to the SM Mall of Asia Arena needs consistency from the player all throughout the calendar year.
It’s either your team does well in its mother league or survive the qualifiers to make it to the National Finals or be part of the 24 top-ranked prospects in the country to play in the All-Star Game.
De La Salle-Zobel, which Rhyle Melencio was part of, declined the invitation to replace San Beda-Rizal due to a lack of preparation time.
Meanwhile, Vhoris Marasigan opted not to play out his final year as well for the Red Cubs.
Still, both Melencio and Marasigan were still able to take part in the ‘Madness at MOA.’
“Ni-recommend po ako ni Coach Brody (Anton Brodette) sa coach ng Batang Tiaong na palaruin po ako tapos binigyan naman po ako mg chance na makalaro kahit hindi po ako taga-Tiaong,” shared the 20-year-old out of Balayan, Batangas.
“After ng last game ko sa UAAP, kinausap ako ng dad ko (Richie Melencio) and sabi niya sa akin na pinapalaro daw po ako sa Pampanga Delta para po sa NBTC. So ako naman tinanggap ko kaagad kasi opportunity din yun para ma-showcase talent ko,” said Rhyle, who traces his roots in Guagua.
“Of course, I’m really happy na makakalaro ako sa NBTC and sa MOA Arena and ma-represent kopa yung hometown ng dad ko wich is Pampanga.”
And the two made the most of their stint with their respective squads.
With Marasigan leading the charge, Batang Tiaong became the darlings of the tournament, stunning Ateneo High School before bowing to Fil-Am Nation in the Magic 12.
“Nakakatuwa kasi kami po yung nagustahan ng masa kahit hindi po kami kilala na team,” expressed the 6-foot-3 Marasigan, who averaged 16.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists.
Meanwhile, Melencio did the same for Pampanga, who only bowed to National University Nazareth School in the same round.
“Wala naman ako masyadong ginawang adjustments sa game ko kaso sabi naman ng mga coach ko na laruin ko lang laro ko,” said the 6-foot-5 UAAP Season 85 Mythical Team member, who normed 26.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 2.0 steals.
Besides getting to play in the National Finals, the two were also part of the All-Star Game.
And those five days at MOA Arena are something the two will cherish as they head to the UAAP Men’s Division.
“Sobrang saya kaso malaking bagay rin para sa career ko yung experience na to,” expressed Melencio.
“And once in a lifetime opportunity na makasama ko yung mga top high school players sa buong Pilipinas so ayun masaya talaga kasi kahit papaano may bond na nabuo.”
“Sobrang saya ko po kasi first time ko lang po kasi mag-NBTC tapos nakasama pa po ako sa all-stars at marami pa po akong naging kaibigan na kapwa player,” added Marasigan, who is a De La Salle University-commit.