Opening bye boosts PH U-18 Seaba bidBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE PHILIPPINE Under-18 Youth team gets to size up its opponents first when the 8th Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) U18 Championship for Men fires off in Singapore today.
With only five holdovers from the under-16 squad, the virtually untested young Nationals start their campaign against Laos at 6 p.m. tomorrow after drawing a bye in today’s opening schedule at Singapore Basketball Center.
“We have no idea yet about the other teams,” said national youth coach Olsen Racela. “But we know Indonesia improved a lot and Singapore also has a tall 16-year-old who was lined up by the Slingers in the ABL.”
Jay Alejandro and Hubert Cani (National University), Jay Javelosa (Reedley International), Prince Rivero (La Salle Green Hills) and Isaac Go (Xavier), who all suited up for the under-16 squad, will rely on their international experience as the Philippines tries to defend its crown in the five-nation tournament.
“We only had about one month to prepare,” said Racela. “But even if we had little time, we’re very optimistic. Our practices had been good.”
Also suiting up for the squad are Kent Lao (University of Santo Tomas), Mark Olayon and RR De Leon (University of the East), Remy Morada (Emilio Agui-naldo College), Rey Nambatac (Letran), Kyle Suarez (University of the Philippines) and Mario Bonleon (LSGH).
The young Nationals, who left Manila yesterday, will clash with Singapore on Thursday and Malaysia on Friday, before wrapping up their stint on Saturday against Indonesia, which is handled by veteran Filipino coach Nat Canson.
The top two teams will head to Mongolia in August for the Fiba Asia tournament. The Filipino under 16-team finished fourth in Vietnam last year.