MANILA, Philippines – A thunderous dunk from 6-foot-6 Fil-Am Jalen Green over the 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto highlighted the action-packed third day of the 2019 Chooks-to-Go NBTC League National Finals on Wednesday, March 20, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Green's one-handed sledgehammer was the crowning moment of FilAm Sports USA's emphatic 90-67 victory over Ateneo-Quezon City in the Supreme 16 phase of the tournament.
With the win, the US team advanced to the Fantastic 8 and inched closer to its goal of winning the national championship for high school.
The 17-year-old Green got the better of the Blue Eaglets' towering 16-year-old early in the 2nd quarter as he drove baseline, met his defender at the rim, and delivered the vicious slam. He finished with a game-high 31 points and collected 6 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals.
"I thought we played really well. We came out with energy. We didn’t have that in the first two games," Green said.
Aside from Green, forward Kai Ballungay also showcased his hops to end up with 16 points and 9 boards. FilAm Sports shot 45% from the field while also doing damage at the defensive end, forcing Ateneo to 28 turnovers.
"We’re glad to have at least one [win] under our belt against Metro Manila teams," beamed FilAm Sports coach Bong Ulep. "We already know coming here that they’re the teams to beat in the tournament so we’re just glad the guys started to play together."
"We came out and actually played hard from the jump. We played defense. We held them to [67 points]. We were playing together and offense was flowing well," Green added as he and his team led by as much as 32 points in the lopsided contest.
USA now awaits the winner between San Beda-Manila and Southern Philippine Colleges-Cagayan de Oro to determine their matchup for the Fantastic 8.
Sotto, meanwhile, did all he could with 24 points and 8 rebounds. Forthsky Padrigao put up 8 markers, 6 boards and 6 dimes, but was also unfortunately responsible for 8 turnovers as Ateneo bowed out of the competition.
Meanwhile, FEU-Manila got the better of NCAA champs Mapua-Manila, 67-58, to also advance to the next round.
RJ Abarrientos led a balanced attack for the Baby Tamaraws with 10 points and 7 rebounds.
In the Supreme 16 of Division 2, Pampanga's St. Agustine Institute of Pampanga walloped Zamboanga Del Sur National HS-Pagadian 83-47 and St. Mary's College of Tagum blasted Dolores National HS-Eastern Samar with a 75-42 decision.
Admission is free in the week-long tourney presented by Chooks-to-Go, Darlington-Exped Socks, EPSON, Huawei, Freego, Purefoods, Gatorade, Go for Gold, SM, Molten, and presented by 5Plus and Lighthouse Events. Fans only need to present a valid ID to enter the SM Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com