Fiba Asia: PH U-18 faces S. Arabia tomorrow
The Energen Pilipinas under-18 team braces for a tough test early with fancied Iran lined up among its first assignments in the 22nd Fiba Asia U18 Championship starting this Friday in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
“We’re in one of the toughest groups,” said national youth coach Olsen Racela. “We don’t have much of an idea yet on our opponents, but we read that Iran had a European tour and they had a close game against Italy.”
The Philippines starts its bid in the preliminary round against Saudi Arabia on Friday, then takes on 2008 runner-up Kazakhstan on Saturday and two-time champion Iran on Sunday.
Former Smart Gilas national team coach Rajko Toroman, who steered Iran to an Olympic berth in 2008, had shared some pointers with the youth team.
“Coach Rajko said Iran has been putting all its resources on its youth team,” said Racela.
“If you just look at their men’s team, they’re very strong. They have a big team. But coach Rajko said we have smart players. He taught some difficult plays but the boys were able to pick them up right away.”
Jerie Pingoy (Far Eastern University-Diliman) and Rey Nambatac (Letran), both the reigning juniors MVP in their varsity leagues, lead the 12-man Philippine team.
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