Members of the Cochrane Ballers basketball team were part of a tournament last weekend to raise funds to send an Alberta team to Manilla, Philippines for a major National Basketball Training Centre (NBTC) tournament next spring.

The Nov. 16-17 Inter-City Battle of the Champions doubled as an opportunity to scout potential U20 players for the Alberta team. Twenty potential players were recruited, including one Cochrane youth, says tournament organizer Danilo Cruz

In all, 12 teams participated, six in both the U20 and Open categories. Members of the Cochrane Ballers combined with players from Banff and Airdrie to play four games in the Open division.

Basketball is a huge sport in the Philippines with a strong professional league that includes players from Canada and the United States, explains Mike Bautista, of the Ballers.

"It's not our national sport, but everybody plays basketball in the Philippines," confirms Cruz.

The NBTC tournament takes place in March, a huge month for the sport in the country.

"We have our own version of March Madness in the Philippines, and that's what the program is all about," says Cruz.

"We're trying to send the best of the best because the competition there is really high. We don't want to send a team that's not competitive, so we're trying scout as much as possible the talent we have in Alberta."

The tournament is also heavily scouted by professional basketball league for future players.

About $1,500 was raised from the tournament and more fundraising will take place, including a raffle.