When the dust of the eliminations and semifinals of the Seaoil NBTC (National Basketball Training Center) 2014 League had settled, only 2 teams remained: San Beda Rizal and Xavier School. Getting into the finals of the NBTC league was an achievement in itself; the 12 & under version of NBTC’s league included some of the toughest teams in Metro Manila. La Salle Greenhills, Ateneo de Manila, Chang Kai Shiek, Marist School, Lourdes School, Escuela de Sophia, La Salle Zobel, Colegio de San Agustin, among others, were the metro’s elite teams featuring the best 12-yr old basketeers in the country.
San Beda Rizal was a powerhouse team who had not one, but two of its top players make it to NBTC’s mythical team. On the way to the finals, the Red Cubs had eliminated contenders like Sacred Heart Novaliches, and La Salle Greenhills, the defending NBTC champions and reigning back-to-back SBP champions.
Xavier was also one of the favorites coming into the tournament. It was the recently-crowned champion of the GotSkills 12 & Under tournament and was a quarterfinalist to the NBTC League the previous year when its players were just 11-year olds, one year younger than most players in the tournament. On the way to the finals, the Stallions eliminated Abiertas School, Grace Christian, and Ateneo de Manila, who was then recently bolstered by recruits from other top schools.
Before the game, head Coach Dr. John Sy reminded his boys to continue the suffocating defense that made it a nightmare for opponents to even cross the half-court line. The Xavier boys were confident, having beaten Abiertas comfortably in the semifinals, 100-85. But Coach John kept the boys grounded, reminding them that San Beda was in a different class and would require their focus and their best to overcome. Assistant Coach Nico Ocampo wanted the boys to play honest defense, while limiting fouls that caused many of their key players to be in foul trouble early in the previous game.
The championship was a dogfight in the early going. San Beda expectedly went to its twin towers, two big men who also had exceptional ball-handling skills. But they were repeatedly thwarted in the paint by Xavier mythical team member Miguel Tan, who blocked their shots or made them alter those shots to keep from being rejected. Xavier’s full-court trapping defense made it hard work for San Beda guards to get to their front court. Xavier’s defense also allowed it to transition and score on plenty of fastbreak opportunities.
The game was tight and was even tied at the end of the first quarter. But Xavier eventually pulled away in the third quarter and kept its distance all throughout the fourth. In the end, Xavier won 70-55.
Darren Sytin’s exceptional play earned for him the Finals MVP. Miguel Tan topscored for the Stallions with 22 points. Xavier team captain Heintrick Tan received the championship trophy on behalf of the team at the awarding ceremonies that followed the game.
With the win, the Xavier 2002 team had won its fifth championship since 2012.
The Xavier Team that won the Seaoil NBTC 2014 12 & Under League is composed of the following students:
|ANG, KARLO EMIL CANLAS||G7G|
|CHENGLAY, SEBASTIAN ONG||G7C|
|CHUA, CODY FRANCIS PENALOZA||G7C|
|CONCEPCION, SEAN KOBE SAMANIEGO||G7J|
|CU, LOUIS CHRISTOPHER VALEZA||G7B|
|ESPINAR, DARREL BUENAVENTURA||G6A|
|ESPINAR, DARREN BUENAVENTURA||G6C|
|FERNANDEZ, LANCE THEODORE CHUA||G8H|
|SEBASTIAN, JUSTINE DANIELLE MIGUEL||G7C|
|SIGGAOAT III, MANUEL ANTONIO LAO||G7C|
|SYTIN, DARREN GABRIEL TAN||G7C|
|TAN, HEINTRICK MIGUEL SY||G7C|
|TAN, MIGUEL ROY LUIS BERGER||G7G|
|YU II, JOSEPH SY||G7I|
|YU, RYAN SAMUEL FRANCISCO||G7I|