Roster woes hit Energen Pilipinas U16 squad
Composed mostly of standouts from the NCAA juniors, the youth squad may miss at least three players, including main man Arvin Tolentino of the San Beda Red Cubs.
The Fiba Asia tournament set on October 18 to 28 in Nha Trang City, Vietnam, will coincide with the semifinal and championship rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament.
San Beda is a virtual NCAA juniors semifinalist with its perfect 11-0 record.
“We have a pool of 18 players, but of course as much as possible, we want to bring our best players,” national youth coach Olsen Racela said in a recent interview with Radyo Inquirer 990. “According to the NCAA, they can’t move the schedule.”
Tolentino, a 6-foot-3 forward, averaged 19.5 points and eight boards in leading the Philippines to a championship sweep of the 1st Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) U16 for Men in Banting City, Malaysia, last August.
Energen Philippines may also miss the services of San Beda point guard Radge Tongco and center Gideon Babilonia. La Salle Green Hills’ Gelo Vito and Mapua’s Jay Alejandro may also skip the tournament with their schools similarly in contention for the NCAA Final Four.
“It’s a bit hard because they’re all part of the rotation,” said Racela.
The Fiba Asia U16 tournament serves as a qualifier for the 2012 Fiba U17 World Championship. This year’s team aims to surpass the feat of the country’s last under-16 batch, which placed a record fourth in 2009.