'Best player in HS' Mark Nonoy steals show from Kai Sotto, Jalen Green

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Mar 23, 2019 07:48 PM
'Best player in HS' Nonoy steals show from Sotto, Green
Mark Nonoy proved Kai Sotto correct when the former said the latter was the best player in high school (Photo courtesy of 2019 NBTC Nationals)

Mark Nonoy was Kai Sotto’s top pick for Team Hustle in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go NBTC All-Star Game presented by SM.

"With my first pick, I pick, sa opinion ko lang, the best player in high school," he said almost two weeks ago. "I pick Mark Nonoy."

That statement, right then and there, just passed by everybody, but rewatching it now, it's an amazing fact that Sotto, the no. 1-ranked high school player in the Philippines, said that actually, somebody else is the best.

Come the All-Star Game itself on Saturday at SM MOA Arena, however, as it turns out, Kai knew very well what he was saying.

With the two teams going at it until very late in the game, Nonoy took over, dropping 16 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter.

All but two of those came in the last four minutes which saw him score 14 straight points to erase a one-point deficit and erect an 89-82 advantage for his team.

For all his trouble, the 18-year-old was recognized as the exhibition's Most Outstanding Player.

"Hindi ko nga alam kung paano ko nagawa yun," he told reporters post-game through chuckles. "Naangat lang confidence ko dahil sa coaches ko. Nagulat na lang ako na ganun yung fourth quarter ko."

Apparently, it was Team Hustle's coaches who put the ball in the hands of their lead guard when it mattered most. "When he started to get it going, I asked Alex [Cabagnot], 'Who do you want the ball to go to?' He told me to give it to Mark," head coach Chris Gavina said, referring to his assistant.

He then continued, "He was being aggressive and usually, the most aggressive players are playing the most fearless out there. He hit that big three and I looked at Alex and I was like, good call."

In the end, modest as always, Nonoy was just grateful to get to play with the best of the best young talent in the Philippines. "Thankful ako kasi iba yung feeling na dati, pinangarap ko lang na makalaro sa ganitong arena tapos ngayon, na-award pa ako na Most Outstanding Player," he said.

He then continued, "Malaking tulong ito sa akin na mag-strive pa ng grabe sa basketball."

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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