Road to Redemption: Jared Bahay Chases Elusive Title in NBTC 2024

After falling short in last year’s NBTC National Finals, Jared Bahay looks to end his high school career with a bang.

Jared Bahay, the top-ranked high school player in the country, has redemption on his mind when his high school team, CESAFI juniors champions Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, takes on other top high school programs in the 2024 Smart-NBTC National Finals that will run from March 18 to 24 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Bahay and the Magis Eagles lost a double-overtime thriller to eventual champions National University Nazareth School in last year’s semifinals, putting to naught Bahay’s 23-4-5 stat line.

“Siyempre motivated,” Bahay told the media at the launch Tuesday of this year’s National Finals. “We, Ateneo de Cebu, have another chance of redeeming ourselves this year. I think lahat kami motivated to win this one.”

The 2024 edition will feature 32 teams, including seven from overseas and 16 from the regions outside Metro Manila, proving once again that the annual high school basketball showcase founded by coaches Eric Altamirano and Alex Compton has provided a venue for provincial talents to be discovered.

Ang dami nang talents from the province na narerecognize ng NBTC,” Bahay said. “Sabi ko nga, thankful kami sa NBTC program.”

NBTC program director Eric Altamirano. (NBTC)

The weeklong tournament will also feature several top foreign-based players such as Andy Gemao, Jayden Harper and Jacob Bayla. The 32 teams will play a seeding games on Monday to determine their division, after which the knockout games will kick off to determine the finalists for Sunday’s championship game.

For the second straight year, Bahay was recently named the top high school player in the NBTC rankings, joining Kai Sotto as the only players who have earned the no. 1 ranking two years in a row.

As the top-ranked player, Bahay will lead Team Heart against Team Hustle of no. 2 Kieffer Alas of De La Salle Zobel in the Mar. 23 All-Star Game.

This will be Bahay’s final major tournament as a high school player. Later this year, he will officially join the Ateneo Blue Eagles in UAAP Season 87 after he decommitted from the UP Fighting Maroons. The cerebral point guard is looking forward to taking his playing career to the next level under Tab Baldwin.

“Ateneo and I are already building relationships,” he said. “It’s almost time to fly here and move out from Cebu, from my comfort zone. I’m trying to build relationships.”

Bahay doesn’t see any problem immersing himself in Baldwin’s system.

“Siyempre iba kasi you know Coach Tab, diba? One of the best coaches here in the Philippines. One of the best programs ang Ateneo. Ibang iba talaga ang Sistema ni Coach Tab sa amin sa Cebu. Pero masasabi ko na kayang kaya ko yan.

“Coach Tab, pinu-push ka niya talaga eh. Parang bini-build niya ang confidence mo. Pinu-push ka niya talaga at nilalagay ka niya sa out of your comfort zone para talagang maging komportable ka sa mga games.”

Banner image courtesy of NBTC.

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