BATANG Gilas finally takes the floor in the Seaba Under-16 Championship on Sunday when it debuts against Singapore at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Led by 6-foot-11 Kai Sotto, the Philippine youth team is determined to bring the crown in front of home fans. But first, they must overcome four nations to win the Seaba title.
The first test will be against Singapore, whose squad comprise of a few players with Filipino heritage in Reuben David Faustino Amado and Jack William Santiago Lacsado.
The Philippines-Singapore match is at 12 noon at the Big Dome.
Three slots in the Fiba Asia Under-16 Championship are up for grabs in the Seaba tilt, but head coach Mike Oliver wants nothing but the title.
The Philippines has not lost in three previous editions of the biennial meet beginning in 2011.
“Siyempre, gusto natin mag-number one. Nag-prepare tayo ng mabuti para pagdating ng tournament, ready tayo,” said Oliver.
The Batang Gilas cagers saw action in the Fr. Martin Cup and the Milcu preseason tournament against college teams to serve as a tune-up for the Seaba tournament.
Admittedly, Oliver said they will enter the Seaba joust without any scouting report about the players who will see action.
“As of now, wala tayong idea kung anong klaseng team sila kasi paiba-iba mga players. Ang tanging magagawa natin, kung sino ‘yung mga coaches ng kalaban, let’s see ‘yung diskarte nila,” said Oliver.
Aside from Sotto, also making waves for the Batang Gilas cagers during tune-up games are McLaude Guadana, Rence Padrigao, Terrence Fortea, and RC Calimag.
The other players are Shaun Geoffrey Chiu, Raven Angelo Cortez, Rafael Go, Joshua Rafael Lazaro, John Bismark Lina, Miguel Tan, and Migs Pascual.