Crafty PH U16 cagers lack shooting prowess | Inquirer Sports

Crafty PH U16 cagers lack shooting prowess

By: - Reporter / @jwpayoINQ
/ 10:50 PM October 29, 2011

Energen Pilipinas guard Hubert Cani fights Japan's Daiki Kaneko for the loose ball as Nic Dalafu looks on.

HO CHI MINH, Vietnam—After matching the fourth-place finish of the previous youth batch, the Energen Pilipinas Under-16 squad thinks it can build on its promising Fiba Asia run.

Their crafty moves got the attention of several foreign coaches, but national youth coach Olsen Racela admits there should be more emphasis on outside shooting in the Philippines’ future international basketball campaigns.

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“Our skills are above average, other coaches have been telling me that,” said Racela. “We just lacked the height, and because of that, we can’t just rely on skills. We also need to improve on our outside shooting.”

The Philippines settled for a fourth-place finish in the recent Fiba Asia U16 tournament after a hot-shooting Japan torched the young Nationals from three-point range, 94-81, in the knockout battle for bronze on Friday in Nha Trang.

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The painful loss came after South Korea also crushed the Philippines’ hopes of a Worlds stint following a 67-58 decision in the semifinals.

Back-to-back champion China and runner-up South Korea earned the right to represent Asia in the 2012 Fiba U17 World Championship in Lithuania after topping the 15-nation tournament.

“In the [basketball] culture of Koreans and Japanese, they really develop shooters,” said Racela. “That’s what we need in international competitions.”

There’s no overlooking, though, the young Nationals’ strong start in the tournament that gathered the sport’s best in the region.

With guard Rev Diputado emerging as the team’s most consistent performer, the Philippines rolled past its opponents in the first six games, including an 82-69 upset of West Asian champion Iraq in the quarterfinals.

The Filipinos also crushed Indonesia (93-30) and Vietnam (111-25) in the preliminaries, before cruising past Qatar (107-28), Saudi Arabia (100-42) and Japan (83-72) in the second round.

Henry Asilum, Hubert Cani, Kyles Lao, Jay Javelosa and Diputado—the only holdovers from the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) championship run—provided the steady presence.

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“The boys learned a lot, I also learned a lot as a coach,” said Racela.

Filipino-Australian wingman Jordan Heading, who only joined the team two months ago, shone as one of the seven in the team’s 12-man roster who made their international playing debut.

Jay Alejandro, Prince Rivero and Tomas Ramos had stellar games as well, while Andrei Caracut, Isaac Go and Nic Dalafu provided quality minutes.

“I told the players that you’ll remember this experience,” said Racela. “After the tournament, not only will they become better players but also better individuals. In their career in the future, they can draw something from this experience.”

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TAGS: Basketball, Energen Pilipinas, Fiba Asia U16, Fiba U17 World Championship, Olsen Racela, Sports
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