7 NLEX aces boost PH Seaba squadBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Seven players from PBA D-League champion NLEX will serve as nucleus of the Philippine team to the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) tournament next month.
Cliff Hodge—the Best Player of the Conference who helped power the Road Warriors to a third straight crown—and his six teammates will team up with Smart Gilas mainstays Chris Tiu, Aldrech Ramos and Marcus Douthit in the regional tournament set on July 3 to 7 in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Smart Gilas coach Chot Reyes bared the roster yesterday, adding that no collegiate players were tapped since the tournament coincides with the UAAP and NCAA games.
Other NLEX players joining the national squad are Chris Ellis, Emman Monfort, Dave Marcelo, Garvo Lanete, Borgie Hermida and Woody Co.
Cebuana Lhuillier’s Vic Manuel, also a former D-League Best Player of the Conference winner, completes the 11-man crew.
The Seaba tournament serves as a qualifier for the Fiba Asia Champions Cup, formerly known as the Stankovic Cup, set in Tokyo, Japan, from Sept. 14 to 22.
Also competing in another Seaba tournament this month is the Philippine under-18 team mentored by national youth coach Olsen Racela.
Hubert Cani and Jay Alejandro (National U), Jay Javelosa (Reedley International), Prince Rivero (La Salle Green Hills) and Isaac Go (Xavier), the five holdovers from the under-16 team, will lead the country’s Seaba youth bid from June 25 to 30 in Singapore.
Rounding out the 12-man squad are Kent Lao (UST), Mark Olayon and RR De Leon (UE), Remy Morada (Emilio Aguinaldo), Rey Nambatac (Letran), Kyle Suarez (UP) and Mario Bonleon (LSGH).
Former Smart Gilas national coach Rajko Toroman is also helping the young nationals gear up for Seaba, where the top three teams will head to Mongolia in August for the Fiba Asia tournament.
“We have less time to prepare this year so we need all the help we can get,” said Racela. “He has been a big help. We’re using the same system, but we added plays from coach Rajko.”