Batang Gilas faces early tests in Fiba U-17 World Cup
The Philippines will be facing early tests in the coming Fiba Under-17 World Cup.
Batang Gilas is in Group D along with France, Croatia and host Argentina, teams that assistant coach Josh Reyes described as among the “toughest teams” in the field.
“If you noticed, there’s no Spain, there’s no Greece, there’s no Lithuania that’s because in the European championship, France and Croatia beat them,” Reyes said during Batang Gilas’ sendoff dinner on Monday.
“I think we’re grouped with the toughest teams out there,” he added.
Reyes is particularly wary of France and its top player.
“The No. 1 player in Europe right now in this age group is playing for France, Killian Hayes. If you look up his name, he’s a top NBA prospect, he’s the No. 1 European player right now,” Reyes said.
Killian Hayes, the French-American guard, was the MVP of the Europe Under-16 Championship after leading France to a gold medal in the tournament where he averaged 16.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.
Despite being up against a tall order, Reyes and the rest of the squad remain positive heading into the competition.
“It’s the coaches’ job to always worry so we’re always worried about not being well prepared so if you’re not worried then, you’re not doing your job,” he said. “We’re always worried but at the same time, we’re all cautiously optimistic.”
“I believe that finally, we were able to assemble the best possible talent in this age group. We’ll see where we are. We can finally gauge our skill level against the best in the world.”
The Philippine team, which will be bannered by Kai Sotto, Carl Tamayo and RC Calimag, leaves for Argentina late Thursday night.
The young Filipinos open their campaign on June 30 against Croatia.