Energen U18 eyes big boost from MVP, Ateneo rookieBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE TWO latest additions in the Energen Pilipinas under-18 team aim to provide the spark the team needs when it competes in the 22nd Fiba Asia U18 Championship in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia starting this Friday.
Jerie Pingoy, the reigning UAAP juniors Most Valuable Player, and big man Kris Porter hope to make an immediate impact in their first international stint with the youth team.
“I know my role in the team is not to score but to play defense and grab rebounds,” said Porter, a 6-foot-4 rookie center in Ateneo’s men’s team. “The tournament we’ll be playing in will be full of players that are much bigger than us and I would like to take it upon myself to be able to help my team.”
National youth coach Olsen Racela said Pingoy, a 5-foot-8 guard from FEU-Diliman, fits well with the squad.
“He’s perfect for our dribble-drive system,” said Racela.
Pingoy and fellow guard Hubert Cani of National U, who still both saw action in yesterday’s UAAP games, will leave for Mongolia tomorrow to join the rest of the team that left yesterday.
“I’m excited to play for our country,” said Pingoy. “It’s not hard to jell with the team. We play for the pride of our schools but outside the court, we’re friends.”
The Philippines kicks off its bid against Saudi Arabia on Friday, then battles 2008 runner-up Kazakhstan on Saturday and two-time Iran on Sunday.
“As of now, our goal is really to get a medal,” said Pingoy.
Completing the 12-man roster are NCAA juniors MVP Rey Nambatac (Letran), Jay Alejandro (NU) Prince Rivero and Mario Bonleon (La Salle Green Hills), Jay Javelosa (Reedley International), Gideon Babilonia (Ateneo), Kyle Suarez (University of the Philippines), Mark Olayon (University of the East) and Kent Lao (University of Santo Tomas).
Listed as reserves are Ronnel Jay Lastimosa (St. Benilde) and RR De Leon (UE).