Press release from SLAM Philippines

Last year, Kai Sotto carried Team Punks to a thrilling OT win over Team Hype. Because of his dominant performance in OT, he was named co-MVP of the game. Kai is back for more this year, ready to grab another win in the 2019 SLAM Rising Stars Classic. He leads another elite collection of the best high school stars in the country.

Kai is now rocking Team Hype’s colors and is looking to replicate his result from last year. Team Hype will be trotting out a towering front court in this year’s showcase. Joining the Kai is his Ateneo teammate Geo Chiu. Backing up the big boys of Katipunan will be DLSZ’s Raven Cortez and Mapua’s Jonnel Policarpio. The average height of Team Hype’s frontcourt rotation rounds out to 6’8″.

Flanking the Team Hype frontline is a well-balanced group of guards and wings. Forthsky Padrigao joins the other Ateneans in the showcase while Dan Arches, Paolo Hernandez and Clint Escamis complete the representatives of the NCAA Champions, Mapua Red Robins. Joem Sabandal returns for his second run in the Rising Stars game. This time around, he’s joined by his AdU teammate, Adam Doria. Rounding out the Team Hype roster are FEU’s Royce Alforque, JRU’s John Amores and Xavier’s Miguel Tan.

To counter Team Hype’s height, Team Punks will unleash a high-powered back court featuring the some of the best scorers in high school. UST’s Mark Nonoy, FEU’s RJ Abarrientos, and LSGH’s Joshua David are going to scorch the nets in this year’s Classic. Mark and RJ are the UAAP’s best gunners with in-the-gym range and confidence while Joshua is a versatile scorer.

The Team Punks core consist of the UAAP Champions, NU Bullpups. Gerry Abadiano and Terrence Fortea add to the firepower of back court while Carl Tamayo gives the team some much-needed ceiling. UST’s Bismark Lina, Arellano’s Aaaron Fermin and LSGH’s Inand Fornilos form a hard working front line rotation. Lyceum’s Mac Guadaña, Hope’s Harvey Pagsanjan and FEU’s Xyrus Torres complete the wing corps while LSGH’s Joel Cagulangan round out the point guards.

Team Hype will be led by Coach Yuri Escueta while Team Punks will be helmed by Coach Gian Nazario.

This year’s Classic aims to welcome back notable Rising Stars from previous years. That’s why two of the best college stars join the benches as Associate Head Coaches. Thirdy Ravena, who played for Team Punks in 2014 will join Coach Gian. Juan Gomez De Liaño played for Team Hype in his second run in 2017 will be part of the Coach Yuri’s bench.

The SLAM Rising Stars is the last high school game for many of the players in the showcase. For players RJ, Joem, Harvey, Aaron and Mark, it’s their last time to put on a show at the high school level.

For other’s, it’s a chance to get some payback in the last high school showcase before the run up for the next season starts. Kai, Geo and Forthsky are all part of Team Hype, they get a chance to get a win over the Bullpups on team Punks. On Team Punks, Inand, Joshua and Joel will try to have the final say over the Red Robins on Team Hype.

Whether it’s a last run or a final win, the SLAM Rising Stars Classic is a great way for all 26 players to showcase their skills for a national audience, just like Thirdy and Juan did before them.

The SLAM Rising Stars Classic will be held on March 31, 7PM to 9PM, at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong. The game will be aired on ABS-CBN Sports via livestream on their YouTube channel.

Check out to get to know more about this year’s SLAM Rising Stars.