Energen PH youth squad unveils Fiba Asia roster
MANILA, Philippines—The Energen Pilipinas Under-16 Youth Team hopes to put up a strong showing despite its retooled lineup in the Fiba Asia U16 tournament in Nha Trang City, Vietnam this month.
Point guard Henry Asilum (Sacred Heart-Ateneo de Cebu) leads the new 14-man roster, where only half saw action in the Philippines’ championship run in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) U16 championship in Banting City, Malaysia last August.
The team will miss several key cogs, including San Beda’s Arvin Tolentino, who powered the Nationals to a Seaba title sweep with a tournament-best of 19.5 points and eight rebounds.
Tolentino, along with several other players, weren’t released by their schools since the regional tournament serving as a world qualifier coincides with the NCAA juniors semifinals and championship.
“The other guys just have to step up,” said national youth coach Olsen Racela. “But I think we’re ready. A few more practice games and we’ll be set.”
Suiting up anew for the young Nationals are guards Hubert Cani (National University), Rev Diputado (San Beda), Kyles Lao (Xavier), forwards Jay Javelosa (Reedley International) and Earl Murphy (Ateneo), and center Daryl Pascual (Arellano).
Seeing action in their first international tournament are Tomas Ramos (Ateneo), J-Jay Alejandro (Mapua), Prince Rivero (National University), Andrei Caracut (San Beda), Isaac Go (Xavier), Nic Dalafu (Victory Christian International) and Jordan Heading (Morrison High School).
“We’ve been trying to simulate [the daily grind] in Fiba Asia,” said Racela. “We’ve been going up against college teams, bigger and more experienced guys, and we’ve actually been winning.”
The Philippines will battle Indonesia (Oct. 19) and host Vietnam (Oct. 20) in Group D of the first round of the tournament pitting 15 of the top Asian teams.
“We’re working on our quickness,” noted Racela.
This year’s team aims to surpass the feat of the country’s last under-16 batch, which placed a record fourth in the Fiba Asia U16 in Johor Bahru, Malaysia in November 2009.
The top two teams in the tournament will represent Asia in the 2012 Fiba U17 World Championship from July 17 to 26 in Lithuania.
Defending champion China mixes it up with India, Malaysia and Chinese Taipei in Group A; Korea, Iraq, Uzbekistam and Lebanon in Group B; and Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Japan in Group C.
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