GILAS Pilipinas U19 team manager Andrew Teh is tempering expectations for the highly-touted national youth team for the Fiba U19 World Cup in Heraklion, Greece.
The Philippines sees action in the June 29 to July 7 with 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto, a pair of 6-foot-10 players in in AJ Edu and Shaun Geoffrey Chiu, and 6-foot-8 Carl Tamayo leading the way.
But Teh stressed that basketball is not all about height.
“Dito sa Pilipinas, height yung kulang sa atin lagi. But this time, we really have some height. But again, it’s not only height that can win you games. It’s the team play,” said Teh in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday at the Amelie Hotel-Manila.
“So it’s not just about the height, although with height you have a good advantage (against the other). We just have to use that as a tool for us to become a better team,” he added.
Chemistry, according to Edu, is also one of the factors the young Philippine team is banking on, the main core of this group having played together as a unit in last year’s FIBA U18 Asian Championship in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
The Filipinos, then handled by Josh Reyes, placed fourth in the Asian meet to qualify for the World Cup.
Sandy Arespacochaga has taken over the squad.
“I’m really liking the chemistry. Obviously I thought after a year we’ve improved, all of us,” said Edu, who was with Teh in the forum presented by San Miguel Corporation, Braska Restaurant, Amelie Hotel, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
“I feel like skills-wise, we’ve improved. And I feel like the chemistry is already there from last year, so we can only get better (from last year),” added the Cypriot-born Filipino, who just finished his freshman year at the University of Toledo of the NCAA’s Mid-Atlantic Conference.
The Youth squad will see action in tune-up games against University of the East and Far Eastern University before leaving for Doha on Friday where it will set up training camp and play two exhibition matches against pro club Al-Rayyan.
Rome-based point guard Dalph Panopio, who missed the team’s training in the Philippines due to conflict with his academic schedule, is going straight to Qatar to join the team.
“Training camp will be about chemistry, camaraderie, and to learn the plays of the coaches,” added Teh
Other members of the 14-man squad are Gerry Abadiano, Bismarck Lina, Rhayyan Amsali, Joshua Ramirez, Migs Oczon, Dave Ildefonso, Terrence Fortea, Xyrus Torres, and James Spencer.
The team leaves Qatar for Greece June 27.
Bracketed in Group C, the Filipinos open their campaign against the host team on June 29, followed by Argentina on the 30th, and then Russia on July 2.