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    Gilas Youth set to step up buildup in Doha after pair of tuneups

    Jun 21, 2019
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    GILAS Pilipinas Youth mentor Sandy Arespacochaga was satisfied with his side's performance in the pair of tuneup games the national youth team played this past week before heading to Qatar.

    "Our objective the past two games was really learn as much as we can, and part of the learning is doing the good things and the wrong things. We wanted the wrong things to get out of our system and we wanted to get used to how we want to play," he said on Thursday.

    Gilas Youth tested its mettle against seniors teams of University of the East and Far Eastern University this past week, and though it drew mixed results from those exhibitions, Arespacochaga put more premium on how his boys would react in certain situations.

    "Actually, I told the players to not look at the scoreboard for the two games. That has to be our attitude going to the Worlds also, that it doesn't matter what the score is, it might be tied, we might be up, they might be up, but the most important thing is to continue the way we want to play. We don't give up and we play with our hearts and play together as a team," he said.

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      That focus will be the key for the Philippine side as they will have a tall task at hand in the 2019 Fiba Under-19 World Cup in Heraklion, Greece later this month.

      The Nationals are set for a collision course against hosts Greece, and powerhouse teams Argentina and Russia in Group C of the competitions.

      As tall of a task as it is, Arespacochaga is keeping his optimism, especially seeing how good of a group he has at hand, led by twin towers Kai Sotto and AJ Edu.

      And that's the reason why he is positive that the training in Doha could only bode well for the boys' preparations for the global youth hoops tilt.

      "We need to improve by two steps, and the more steps we improve, the better it is for us," he said.

      "We've got a great group of guys, very good players at lahat sila mababait, maganda ang ugali. They've been listening and cooperating with the coaching staff, and hopefully malabas namin lahat ng nakikita namin sa coaching staff para makita rin ng mga tao pagdating sa game. Sana makita nila yung puso ng mga players natin."

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      Gilas Youth will fly for Qatar on Friday evening where it will do two-a-day practices before taking on Al Rayyan in a pair of tuneup games.

      Point guard Dalph Panopio is set to join the team in that camp before the Filipinos go to Greece for the Under-19 World Cup.

      More than anything, that Doha trip will also be crucial in making these boys understand what they're fighting for.

      "Aside from just focusing on basketball, we want our players na maramdaman nila yung pagka-Pilipino," said Arespacochaga. "We want to visit yung mga kababayan natin at makita rin ng mga bata natin na maraming ibang tao na naghihirap, so hopefully dalhin namin yung makikita namin doon, maisapuso namin yung experience, at lalaro kami for these people. Hopefully, that will help us also with our character."

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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