MANILA, Philippines -- A dozen spots for provincial squads and four more berths for international teams are up for grabs as the National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) shifts into higher gear its drive to the 2023 SM NBTC National Championship.
NBTC's 13th season officially restarted its qualifiers last July with Canada and USA's Global Games already sending two teams - Winnipeg and Team United, respectively - to Manila next year.
Italy's Global Games will be up next in September, and will then be followed a month later by Australia, New Zealand, and UAE.
"We're so happy and so excited that, finally, we're here again and we're back to set up a stage for young Filipinos to shine," said NBTC program director Eric Altamirano.
Provincial teams will get their chance in November via local qualifying tournaments. Albay, Baguio, Cavite, Cebu, La Union, Kidapawan, Northern Mindanao, Quezon, Rizal, and the Central Luzon cluster of Bataan, Bulacan, Olongapo, Pampanga, and Tarlac have committed to organizing qualifiers, where a total of 144 teams are expected to see action.
Unlike before, the NBTC's 13th season will no longer be confined to school-based squads, and will now be open to club teams. All who wish to play, however, must present proof of age and nationality.
"We believe it's best to go with the times. 'Yung international teams naman natin, they're not school-based, so why not give everybody that choice as well," explained Altamirano.
Rounding out the 24 slots in the nationwide tournament for young Filipino talent to be played at SM Mall of Asia Arena will be the NCAA and UAAP Juniors champions as well as four more squads from NCR.
The 2023 SM NBTC National Championship and All-Star Game are tentatively scheduled for April next year.