Ateneo coach Silva on 3 Eaglets in NBTC 24: ‘They deserve to be there’

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jan 18, 2018 07:47 PM
Silva on 3 Eaglets in NBTC 24: ‘They deserve to be there’
Dave Ildefonso and Kai Sotto (in photo), along with SJ Belangel, of Ateneo make up 12 percent of the first-ever NBTC 24 high school player rankings

Ateneo de Manila High School is undefeated in the UAAP 80 Juniors Basketball Tournament.

And with a lineup as talented and as deep as they have, the Blue Eaglets are expected to go all the way to the Finals – and even get the championship.

Led by three players in the top five in terms of Statistical Points (SPs) in the UAAP in second-running Kai Sotto, third-running SJ Belangel, and fourth-running Dave Ildefonso, indeed, no team is as talented and as deep as the kids from Katipunan.

For head coach Joe Silva, those three are only worthy of being mentioned as top talent not only in the UAAP, but also the entire Philippines. “The three of them really are blue-chip talents sa high school,” he said.

The first-ever NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24 high school player rankings seems to agree with him as in the initial list revealed last Monday, Sotto was deemed the top talent among all players taking part in the NCAA, UAAP, CESAFI (Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc.), MMBL (Metro Manila Basketball League), and FCAAF (Filipino-Chinese Amateur Athletic Federation).

The NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24 is a weekly ranking of high school players which will ultimately be used to select the participants in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game at the MOA Arena.

There, Belangel was ranked fifth while Ildefonso was eighth. That means that Ateneo has three players in the top eight in all of the Philippines.

In Silva’s eyes, there is no doubt that his three prized prospects are nothing but deserving of their ranks. “They deserve to be there,” he said.

That statement is even truer for Sotto, the towering teen who has long had scouts drooling about his potential. “If you put him in another team, he’d dominate, double-double yan easily. We’re not about individual stuff, but it’s not a surprise that Kai’s number one,” he said.

The 7-foot-1, 15-year-old has per game counts of 12.6 points in 53.7 percent shooting, 12.6 rebounds, and 4.9 blocks in just 23.2 minutes of play.

Silva was quick to remind Sotto, Belangel, and Ildefonso, however, “Good for them, pero they shouldn’t settle. They should work harder, stay humble, and focus on their studies.”

The Blue Eaglets mentor, though, would also like to see two more names of his players on the NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24. “For me, Jason Credo and Joaqui Manuel should be there. Maybe they’re being overshadowed kasi medyo malakas yung team namin kaya they don’t get their numbers,” he said.

He then continued, “Pero versatility-wise, value to the team, I believe they should be there.”

Manuel has been their breakout player with averages of 11.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists while Credo has been their glue guy with norms of 10.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.6 steals.

Manuel and Credo’s next chance to get on the list will be next Monday when the new rankings will be released.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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