Fil-Nation Select downs NUNS for Girls NBTC crown


Posted at Mar 19 2023 01:50 PM | Updated as of Mar 19 2023 01:51 PM

Fil-Nation Select-USA are the inaugural champions of Smart-NBTC Girls Have Next. Handout photo.
Fil-Nation Select-USA are the inaugural champions of Smart-NBTC Girls Have Next. Handout photo.

MANILA -- Fil-Nation Select-USA emerged as the first ever champions of the Smart-NBTC Girls Have Next, out-dueling local powerhouse NU-Nazareth School, 63-54, at Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.

Led by Harvard University-commit Nina Emnace's 17 points, the Fil-foreigners fended off a gritty challenge from the Lady Bullpups and emerged as the inaugural champions of the tournament.

The Lady Bullpups battled back from an eight-point halftime deficit in the third quarter and took the lead with back-to-back baskets from Cielo Pagdulagan, 43-41. Emnace, however, drilled a three to regain the lead. 

The game remained nip-and-tuck in the final frame, as a triple from Rachelle Mendoza got NUNS within six, 52-58, with 4:32 remaining. The Fil-fors had the answer, though, and Isabella De Jesus provided the dagger with a three of her own for the biggest lead of the game at nine with 2:32 ticks left.

Fil-Nation Select head coach Roger Mantua commended his wards in persevering to win the championship despite short preparation time.

"I believe that was a well-earned win. The girls were just playing hard (and) stayed disciplined. There were a few lapses, but I think the girls were able to overcome that. They overcame the obstacles and we can see the results. They played together as a team," he said.

The biggest grassroots event also continues today with the All-Star Game and Division 2 and 1 Finals. All games will be livestreamed on Facebook on the NBTC, Smart Sports, and Puso Pilipinas pages.

The tournament is sponsored by Smart, SM, Strong Realty and Development Corp., Under Armour, and Molten, and supported by Tecno, Regent, Rebisco, Jollibee, San Miguel Corp., Maynilad, Rebel Sports Pilipinas, MNL Kingpin, Gatorade, Swish App by NBN23, Victory Liner, Jasper Jean, Darlington, Exped, Mr. Freeze, Coach E Basketball School, Lighthouse Events, and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.