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Sacred Heart battles Italian squad, Pampanga takes on Australian club in NBTC opener

Jojo Neri-Estacio, Under Armour Head of Marketing; Butch Antonio, SBP Deputy Executive Director; Eric Altamirano, NBTC Program Head; Hans Sy, SM Prime Chairman of Executive Committee; Jude Turcuato, PLDT First Vice President and Head of Sports attended the NBTC seeding draw and the pre-tournament press conference. NBTC
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY—Sacred Heart School-Ateneo De Cebu and the Pampanga Delta's youth squad are set to battle tough teams to open their campaign in the Smart NBTC National Finals on March 15 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

In the seeding draw conducted on Thursday at the said venue, the Magis Eagles, seeded sixth in the 24-team field, will take on Rome Elite of Italy.

On the other hand, the Delta, the eighth seeds, will face the Homegrown Crusaders of Australia in another "Super 24" game.

Meanwhile, Philippine Christian University-DasmariƱas, Doc Boleros, Batang Tiaong, Team Tarlac, and St. Louis School of Don Bosco might need to play beyond their A-game if they want to pull off a major upset against the top five seeds of the tournament pitting some of the best high schools locally and even among the Filipino communities abroad.

Only Doc Boleros have their opponents known as they will take on Fil-Am Select, seeded fifth, in the first round.

For the other four squads, they might need to wait a little longer as the NCAA and the UAAP high school basketball events are just nearing their homestretch.

The UAAP is now in the Final Four phase where Adamson takes on the University of Santo Tomas and FEU-Diliman battles Nazareth School of National University on Tuesday at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.

On the other hand, the NCAA Final Four has begun with San Beda-Taytay and La Salle Greenhills beginning its virtual best-of-three series as of posting.

The other NBTC Super 24 games feature Level Up Team Abro of Davao City taking on the University of Luzon in Dagupan, Team United of the United States battling a selection from Winnipeg, another Canadian team, this time representing Toronto, battling St. Benilde International School of Calamba City, and Holy Trinity College of Gen. Santos fighting Pinoy Mavs of New Zealand.

Another team, the Dubai Patriots, will only find out about its first-round opponent by March 11, the conclusion of the Batangas qualifiers.

After the Super 24 games, the winners will make up Division 1, while the losing sides will be relegated to Division 2.

All of the teams will then be divided into three pools of four per division and will play a single round-robin elimination in the so-called "Elite 12" phase from Feb. 16-17.

The top teams per pool will then collide in the division semifinals, also known as the "Fearless 4" on March 18 with the winners advancing to the division finals on March 19.

All the games will be played within the SM Mall of Asia complex here with the MOA Arena as the main battleground.

Fans can watch the games live at the venues or through the live streams at the NBTC, Smart Sports, and Puso Pilipinas pages.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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