Batang Gilas boasts of height, speed for Fiba Asia U16
The Philippine youth team is primed to present a different kind of challenge against the competition in the Fiba U16 Asian Championships in Foshan, China next month.
Unlike in past editions of the tournament where undersized Philippine teams had to primarily bank on quickness, the latest version of Batang Gilas will have a man in the middle who can look eye-to-eye with the opposition’s big men.
Expected to lead Batang Gilas’ campaign is 7-foot-1 center Kai Sotto, who is coming off a dominating season in the UAAP where he led the Ateneo Blue Eaglets to the championship.
“We have a combination of height and speed. At least, we’re not going to look pitiful inside unlike before,” said Batang Gilas coach Michael Oliver during the PSA Forum on Tuesday at Tapa King Restaurant at Araneta Center in Cubao. “We’re not going to be undersized against our opponents.”
Joining Sotto are Rafael Go, Raven Cortez, McLaude Guadana, Terrence Fortea, Recaredo Christian Calimag, Rence Padrigao, and Shaun Geofrrey Chiu, who helped the team win the Southeast Asian Basketball Association juniors championship in Manila last year.
Rounding out the squad are newcomers Jerick Kyle Bautista, Joshua Rafael Lazaro, Yukien Andrada, and King Balaga.
Sonny Barrios, executive director of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, said aside from Sotto, six other players in the team are above six feet, including the 6-foot-8 Chiu and 6-foot-7 Cortez.
The team’s mettle will be tested right away being in Group B along with heavyweight Australia and Malaysia.
The host country is in Group A with New Zealand and Hong Kong, Iran, Chinese Taipei and Macau are in Group C, while Korea, Japan, Lebanon and India comprise Group D.
The top four finishers will represent Asia in the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup in Argentina next year.
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