MANILA, Philippines -- The National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) program, which counts Kai Sotto and Jalen Green among its alumni, is launching the Global Games to provide an even bigger platform for Filipino basketball players.
The NBTC has been on pause since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but its founder and director, coach Eric Altamirano, on Monday announced that they are taking the steps towards a return.
"It has always been NBTC's aim to identify, develop and hone the best Filipino talents both here and abroad," said Altamirano in a press conference on Monday morning. "For the last 13 years, we have seen the exponential growth of the program, from three cities when it first started to more than 100 cities, and still growing."
Altamirano noted that former NBTC players have gone on to play in the UAAP, the NCAA, and even the PBA. Recently, Green -- who played in the NBTC National Finals in 2018 and 2019 -- was taken second overall by the Houston Rockets in the NBA Rookie Draft.
With the goal of finding "the next Jalen Greens," the NBTC launched the Global Games that will take place in six different countries: the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, and Italy.
Each country will organize its own tournament, with the champions earning a spot in the NBTC national finals in the Philippines. Only the players with Filipino lineage will be eligible to play in the Global Games.
"Through this new program, we are hoping to provide a platform for the next Jalen Greens to emerge. There remains many young Filipino basketball players around the world waiting to be discovered," said Altamirano.
"In the last six years, we have gotten numerous requests from international teams to play in the NBTC national finals. We couldn't entertain all of them since we have limited slots," he explained.
"The Global Games will open the door for hundreds of players overseas to showcase their talent and widen the pool for our national youth teams."
Already, community leaders in different countries are preparing to organize their own local competitions with the NBTC Global Games in mind. Cris Gopez, founder of FilAm Nation Select, anticipates some 40 teams in the West Coast to take part, while around 60 teams from the East Coast have already expressed their interest.
Coach Ever Cuerdo, of the FilCom Italy Basketball Association, said they have extended invitations all over Europe as well.
"Palaki ng palaki ang family ng NBTC," said Cuerdo.
The Global Games are expected to start by next year, and the national finals are tentatively scheduled for March 2023, with the hopes that the situation in the Philippines has normalized by that time.
"We don't know yet what will be the condition by 2023," Altamirano admitted. "But hopefully, we can be back to normal, and hold a sporting event without any bubble."