THE Batang Gilas Pilipinas cagers will leave for Medan, Indonesia on Thursday for the Seaba Under-18 Championship opening on Saturday.
The Philippine youth team held its final practice on Wednesday night at the Meralco Gym before they plunge into action against Thailand in the opener to be held at the Angkasapura Lanud Hall.
National coach Mike Oliver said they are not taking the tournament lightly, having prepared for four months in their bid for one of three slots to this year’s Fiba-Asia Championship in Iran.
“Lahat ng countries are catching up,” said Oliver. “Lahat gusto tayong maka-level or, as much as possible, talunin. Walang pupunta sa tournament na sasabihin, talo na kami.”
Ateneo juniors standouts Jolo Mendoza and Gian Mamuyac are the co-captains of the team and will be joined by former Fiba 3x3 cager Joshua Sinclair of National University, and NCAA Finals MVP Evan Nelle of San Beda.
Also part of the team are Jonas Tibayan, Will Gozum, John Bahio, Pedro Alfaro, Fran Yu, Rendell Lee, Joshua Flores, and Alain Jethro Madrigal.
Six teams are entered in the Seaba tilt with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Laos also entered. Teams will play a single round-robin eliminations with the top two teams facing off in the championship game on April 28.
“As of now, wala pa tayong idea kung paano sila maglalaro pero ineexpect namin na mas matangkad sila sa atin, which is always naman. Ang hinahabol natin ay makapag-prepare ng maayos para kahit anong klaseng team na makakalaban natin, at least, handa tayo,” said Oliver.