The National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) is putting up the Global Games in 2022 to give young Filipino basketball players all around the world the opportunity to showcase their skills in hopes of one day following in the footsteps of Jalen Green in the National Basketball Association or Kai Sotto in the Australian National Basketball League.
“It has always been NBTC’s aim to identify, develop, and hone the best Filipino talents both here and abroad,” said program director Eric Altamirano.
“We’re hoping that the NBTC Global Games will open the door for hundreds of Filipino players overseas to showcase their talents and widen the pool for our national youth team.”
The 7-foot-3 Sotto, now a mainstay for the Gilas men’s basketball team who is set to see action in NBL in Australia, has competed in several NBTC League National Finals. The same went for the explosive Green who played in the league in 2018 and 2019.
Whereas players abroad needed to fly to Manila to start making a name for themselves, this time around, the NBTC will oversee seven qualifiers in six countries. The U.S. will organize one tournament apiece for the East and West coasts. Then Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Italy-Europe, and Dubai will each host one of their own.
Anne Paulin will handle NBTC USA East, while the West Coast will have Fil-Am Nation Select’s Cris Gopez. Mike Cruz will be in charge of Canada, while David Perez will handle New Zealand. Ever Cuerdo will organize the games in Italy, then Karlo Basa will help in Australia. The same goes for Benedict Vegamora for Dubai.
“Imagine, before, piling countries lang and nakikita at naa-identify. But now, with the opening of the Global Games, hundreds of potential talented players can be identified and put on the radar,” explained Altamirano. “Mas lumawak ang network ngayon in terms of talent identification.”
In the last few years before the pandemic scrapped all amateur basketball competitions, the NBTC provided an avenue for Fil-foreign players to be seen and eventually recruited. Just a few of NBTC alumni now with local collegiate teams are Matthew Daves (Canada), Eli Ramos (U.S.), Gab Gomez (Italy), Jordan Perez (New Zealand), and Kai Balunggay (U.S.) of Ateneo; Jasper Rentoy (Australia) of UE; and James Canlas and Brendon Ocampo (Canada) of San Beda.
Through the Global Games, the hope is for that number to double or triple. In the U.S. alone, at least 40 teams from each coast have already expressed interest.
The winners in qualifiers will book a ticket to the NBTC League National Finals, which has been penciled in for a return in March 2023, still at SM Mall of Asia Arena. There, the best of the best from overseas will take on the cream of the crop of the Philippines, who will also qualify through the regional tournaments. (JNP)