The nationwide multimillion project was earlier launched in Luzon with the National Capital Region (NCR) training center while the Visayas training center will be inaugurated on Tuesday.
"This is not a one shot deal. This is a three-year program that would provide world class training, " said Patrick Gregorio, BAP-SBP Executive director during the launching at the Bistro Rosario function hall.
Gregorio, who had said he knows by heart the need for an honest to goodness countryside grassroots program for the sport, sees a bright future ahead for the country's basketball.
"This is a good program, " Gregorio repeatedly said of the multimillion three-year SBP's NBTC program during the gathering that was also attended by NBTC program director Eric "Coach E" Altamirano and BAP-SBP Regional director Regino "Boy" Cua.
The SBP's NBTC program, which is bankrolled by TAO Corporation, aims to identify, prepare and develop outstanding young boys and girls 14 – 17 years of age in the countryside and serve as training ground for the national youth teams that would compete in all FIBA, the international governing body of the sport, sanctioned tournaments.
"We want to give opportunities for the young players with national aspiration to train in the areas close to their homes by some of the country's top notch coaches, " said Altamirano.
During the gathering, NBTC Davao territory head Atty. Manny Nitorreda presented the 40 young players who qualified to the 14-15 and 16-17 years old age group's after the try out conducted last January 12 at the Ateneo De Davao University High School Gym.
Of the 40 qualifiers — 22 in 14-15 years old division and 18 in 16-17 years old class — only four or 10% are not from Davao City. They are Mark Regalado and Chuck Orbase (14-15) and Paul James De Mesa and Jonathan Tonggal, the tallest of them who stands six-foot-two and one half (16-17). They are all from General Santos City's Holy Trinity College.
This city's qualifiers mostly came from Holy Child School of Davao with 12 aspirants led by bright prospect Mario Emmanuel Bonleon, 13, who stands six-foot-one.
The rest are from the Ateneo De Davao University (6), University of Mindanao (5), Stella Maris Academy (2), Jose Maria College (2), Holy Cross of Davao College (2), Southern Philippine Polytechnic College (1) and Davao Jones Academy (1).
Bonleon, who won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) plum in the cadet category (14 years old and below) of the recently concluded Gaisano South Cup, is the youngest of all the qualifiers.
Bonleon who took part in the 16-17 class during the try out can either play in the 14-15 or in 16-17 age groups, according to Altamirano.
Nitorreda also named the NBTC Mindanao coaches as Pochollo Elegino, Miguel Solitaria and Caloy Salvador of Ateneo De Davao University, Roderick Conda and Augusto Banzali of University of Mindanao, Ferdinand Pastor of Jose Maria College, Ruel Josol of the Duterte Agilas, former Philippine Basketball League (PBL) standout Wynsjohn Te and Fil-am Ace Aspiras who is from Digos City.
Basketball Buhay ng Pinoy , the SBP's official newsletter, which was distributed to the media, players and parents during the launching, reported that Tao Corporation president Jun Sy, an avid fan of basketball, recently pledged P80-million as support for the 3-year program of SBP's NBTC and the RP national youth team.
"TAO Corporation is excited to be part of a dream to make Philippine Basketball a source of pride. We believe in the leadership of Manny Pangilinan (BAP-SBP president)", Jun Sy was quoted as saying in the newsletter. (Rico Biliran/MindaNews)