Philippine U16 five has one less worry
NHA TRANG, Vietnam—The Energen Pilipinas Under-16 squad may just have one less team to worry about as Iran remains a no-show in the Fiba Asia U16 tournament here.
Iran—one of the powerhouse teams the Philippines is expected to battle in the second round–has yet to arrive in this coastal city due to visa problems.
A third-place finisher in the tournament’s last edition in 2009, Iran has already dropped two games by forfeiture against Qatar and Japan in Group C of the preliminary round.
National youth coach Olsen Racela is also looking ahead with the Philippines virtually assured of a spot in the second round.
“I just kept reminding them (players) that they have to remain focused. They’ve seen the opponents and how tall and strong they are,” said Racela, who’s banking on Jay Alejandro and Filipino-Australian Jordan Heading to lead his 12-man roster.
Only the top three nations in each of the four groups in the preliminaries will advance to the second round.
The Philippines luckily made it to the only three-team bracket with Indonesia and host Vietnam in Group D, thus assuring all three of second-round berths.