BATANG Gilas coach Mike Oliver is confident the team will do well in the Fiba Under-16 Asian Championships despite the lack of preparation, noting the change in schedule has helped secure the services of key players from the UAAP.
Initially set in September, the event was rescheduled for April 2 to 8 in Foshan, China.
“Nakatulong rin dahil kapag pumasok ’yun sa season ng UAAP, mas lalo kaming mahihirapan,” said Oliver during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Tapa King in Quezon City.
“Very fortunate na na-move siya, at least patapos na ‘yung mga major tournaments. Kaya nga we are now practicing daily kasi recently lang tayo nakumpleto.”
“Na-excite ’yung management na nakakuha tayo ng mga two or three tune-up games next week,” said Oliver.
Ateneo’s 7-foot-1 center Kai Sotto will be joined by Rafael Go, Raven Cortez, McLaude Guadana, Terrence Fortea, RC Calimag, Forthsky Padrigao and Geo Chiu, who had played in the Seaba Under-16 Championship last year.
Also suiting up for Batang Gilas are Jerick Kyle Bautista, Joshua Lazaro, Yukien Andrada and King Balaga.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Renauld ‘Sonny’ Barrios said the team is seeking to secure one of four spots for the zone in this year’s Fiba Under-17 Basketball World Cup in Argentina.
“Parati nating problema ’yung lack of preparation time,” said Barrios. “Hindi sa inaano ko agad ‘yung team or binibigyan ng excuse dahil once na hinirang kang national team, wala nang excuse and you have to perform for flag and country.”
“But that has always been the problem unfortunately because of scheduling. Hindi lang sa men’s may issue na highly-publicized. Ganun din sa age group ‘yung ating school leagues. Hindi rin nila makuha ‘yung gusto nilang player or kung makuha man nila, konting oras na lang.
“But as always, they will give their best,” said Barrios, who was joined in the forum by team managers Andrew Teh and Wilbert Loa, assistant coach MC Abolucion and players Guadana and Chiu.
Guadana and Chiu are looking forward to playing against the Asia’s top players after the Philippines topped the Seaba Under-16 Championship.
“Sobrang makakatulong sa amin ’yun dahil exposure sa amin na nag-top kami. Sabi nga nila coach, malaki at mas mabilis ang mga kalaban namin. Babawiin namin ’yun sa mga magandang ginagawa namin sa system na nagawa namin sa Seaba para pagdating ng Fiba Asia, ma-apply namin ’yung natutunan,” said Guadana, a player from Lyceum.
Chiu said: “Siguro ‘yun sa Seaba, marami kaming natutunan. Marami kaming bagong experiences lalo na first time ko sa tournament. Marami talga ako nakuhang added experience.”