Belangel dislodges Ateneo teammate Sotto out of top spot in NBTC 24

Belangel dislodges teammate Sotto out of top spot in NBTC 24
For the first time in five weeks, Kai Sotto did not hold the top spot in the NBTC 24

The UAAP Season 80 Juniors Basketball Tournament closed out its elimination round with a bang, but as the day ended, one student-athlete stood head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.

Ateneo de Manila High School's senior floor general SJ Belangel dropped a whopping 31 points against Nazareth School of National University, leading the Blue Eaglets to an immaculate 14-0 record en route to an automatic Finals berth.

With this outing and the consistency he showed during the preliminaries, Belangel took over the top spot as the best high school prospect in Week 5 of the National Basketball Training Center Chooks-to-Go 24.

The NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24 is a weekly ranking of high school players taking part in the UAAP, CESAFI-NBTC, MMBL, and FCAAF tournaments as well as the recently concluded NCAA competition.

Ateneo big man and 23 for 2023 cadet Kai Sotto dropped to second after sitting atop the ladder for the last four weeks. Rounding out the top five are La Salle Greenhills' Joel Cagulangan, Mapua University's Will Gozum, and Far Eastern University-Diliman's L-Jay Gonzales.

For dragging University of Sto. Tomas to a playoff match against Adamson High School, CJ Cansino, who is bound to win the UAAP Jrs. MVP, went up to seven. 

On the other hand, Baby Falcons ace Joem Sabandal also rose in the weekly rankings, going up to 16.

Making the biggest leap this week is CESAFI MVP Alex Visser. Visser rose to 17th, four spots higher than a week ago. 

The biggest loser this week is Baby Tamaraws off-guard RJ Abarrientos. The FEU-commit was a non-factor during his team's loss to the Tiger Cubs last Sunday resulting to a drop from eighth to 14th.

Here is the complete rankings after Week 5:

1. SJ Belangel, ADMU (2)
2. Kai Sotto, ADMU (1)
3. Joel Cagulangan, LSGH (3)
4. Will Gozum, MU (4)
5. L-Jay Gonzales, FEU (5)
6. Rhayann Amsali, NU (6)
7. CJ Cansino, UST (9)
8. Dave Ildefonso, ADMU (7)
9. Aaron Fermin, AU (10)
10. Clint Escamis, MU (11)
11. John Galinato, CKSC (12)
12. Inand Fornilos, LSGH (13)
13. Warren Bonifacio, MU (14)
14. RJ Abarrientos, FEU (8)
15. Evan Nelle, SBC (15)
16. Joem Sabandal, ADU (17)
17. Alex Visser, SHS Cebu (21)
18. Terrence Fortea, NU (16)
19. Raven Cortez, DLSZ (18)
20. Beirn Laurente, UV (20)
21. Mac Guadana, LPU (22)
22. Joaqui Manuel, ADMU (19)
23. Harvey Pagsanjan, HCHS (23)
24. Maui Cruz, EAC (24)

The Juniors stars were ranked using the following criteria: league stats, impact in team, team record, leadership, defense, offense, and level of competition.

These rankings will be used to determine the 24 players who will take part in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game on March at the MOA Arena.

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