Batang Gilas' young bigs toughened by games vs college teams in Seaba U16 buildup
Kai Sotto and the Batang Gilas team opened their campaign in the Fr. Martin Cup seniors division with a narrow loss to Ateneo Team B. Reuben Terrado

BATANG Gilas has begun playing tune-up matches and summer tournaments in preparation for the 2017 Seaba Under-16 Championship.

The Philippine youth team opened their Fr. Martin Cup campaign as a guest team on Wednesday morning, bowing to Ateneo’s Team B seniors team, 84-77, at the San Beda gym.

The Batang Gilas cagers are also set to play in the Milcu Sports preseason tournament this weekend as part of their preparations for the Seaba Under-16 Championship which is set from May 12 to 18 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

“Every practice nakukumpleto na tayo,” said Batang Gilas coach Mike Oliver. “‘Yung system naman natin, naiintindihan na nila. Kailangan na lang natin, jelling nila at experience kaya tayo sumali ng Fr. Martin’s.”

A 15-man pool led by UAAP Rookie of the Year Kai Sotto has been formed, from where the final 12 will be determined.

Other members of the pool are Recaredo Christian Calimag of San Beda, Shaun Geoffrey Chiu of Pace Academy, Daniel Coo of St. John Bacolod, Raven Angelo Cortez of La Salle Zobel, Terrence Fortea of National University, Rafael Go of Chiang Kai Shek College, Mclaude Guadana of Lyceum, Joshua Rafael Lazaro of San Beda, John Bismarck Lina of University of Santo Tomas, Lloyd Raphael Oliva of La Salle Greenhills, Rence Keith Sean Padrigao, Jose Miguel Pascual of San Beda, Miguel Roy Luis Tan of Xavier, and Ryan Samuel Yu of Xavier.

Batang Gilas already played in four tune-up matches against seniors squads, losing to San Beda twice, then bowing to National University and Lyceum.

In the Fr. Martin opener on Wednesday, Calimag topscored for the Batang Gilas cagers with 20 points as they plunge into action in a major summer tournament in a losing effort.

Nevertheless, Oliver said the experience of playing against the seniors team will go a long way especially for the team’s big men led by Sotto.

“Para makalaban natin, mas malaki, mas malakas para ‘yung level ng competition mataas, para kahit papaano ma-fast track ng konti ‘yung preparations natin,” said Oliver.

“Mas maayos na ‘yung system, naitatakbo na ‘yung system. Kulang na lang sa strength especialy sa shaded area so ‘yun ang winork out natin kasi ‘yung guards natin, solid na. ‘Yung post area ‘yung mabigyan natin ng bola at magkaroon ng puntos,” he added. 

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