BASKETBALL REVIVAL. Team coaches and organizers of the National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) met earlier this week with Cagayan de Oro City Rolando Uy for a courtesy call. On Sunday, (Oct. 9, 2022), the NBTC will resume its elimination tournament in the city. (Photo courtesy of NBTC)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Youth basketball will be formally revived in this city when the National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) elimination fires off at the Macasandig gymnasium on Sunday.

Tournament organizer Arvin Martinez said Thursday that the NBTC has welcomed back club teams after two years of absence due to the pandemic.

He pointed out that the tournament would be for boys born in 2004 and above.

A total of 16 schools and club teams from all over the city are joining the tournament.

Teams will compete for a lone slot for the elimination of the regional set here in this city, and in December before the Christmas holidays.

Teams joining are Jazz Julo (Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School), MLT Gamba (Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan), Bien Sports Tailoring (Liceo de Cagayan University), Sacred Heart of Jesus Montessori School, EJ's Tailoring (Pilgrim Christian College), Municipality of Talakag, Bukidnon, and Basoy Petroleum.

Other teams include PJT Sealcor Knights (Corpus Christi School), Rhilap'z Ballgame, Merry Child School, Cezar Ballers, Southern Philippines College, Dominique Chicken Trading (Indahag National High School), Bagong Lipunan-Star Ads, Prime Land Realty, and Kong Hua School.

Martinez said they have allowed club teams this year because many school teams cannot put up their teams yet.

One school skipping this year is the 2019 Cagayan de Oro champion Assumption Montessori School (AMS) of Balulang.

AMS owner Jorey Alfaro confirmed that they would not join the tournament this year as they would abide by the Department of Education (DepEd) order of not allowing outdoor sports activities for schools.

"We are just right now following DepEd's guidelines of No Outdoor Competition (policy). That is why there is no scheduled Palarong Pambansa for this year," Alfaro said.

Coach to keep

Meanwhile, AMS has retained their long-time coach, James Racines, one of the young outstanding basketball trainers here in this city.

Racines has led AMS to four regional championships and one Division 2 National Championship.

He worked as an assistant coach for San Sebastian College-Recoletos (SSC-R) for a while and brought to the Stags Rommel Calahat who is now a stalwart for SSC-R in the ongoing NCAA.

The absence of AMS in this year's NBTC elimination tournament has opened wide the competition among local teams.

Despite their absence, Alfaro insists that they have kept their sports program.

"Our sports program has been there always even during the pandemic. Meaning we have enrolled varsities right now," he said.

A total of 16 teams will compete here in the NBTC Regional qualifying tournament sometime in December.

The teams will come from Bislig City, Surigao City, Butuan City, Bayugan City, Cagayan de Oro City, El Salvador City, and Malaybalay City.

Additional teams will come from the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga del Norte; and the cities of Marawi, Pagadian, Zamboanga, and Iligan.

The top team will qualify for the National Finals in the Mall of Asia Arena next year.

They will compete against International NBTC teams and champions from other interschool big leagues. (PNA)