FOR James Spencer, being a part of the Gilas Pilipinas Youth pool for the 2019 Fiba Under-19 World Cup is already a realization of his longtime dream.
"It’s a great honor. I've been eyeing this team since I was even thinking out here to play college basketball," said the Fil-Australian guard.
Though his spot still isn't secured, the University of the Philippines swingman is elated to be with the World Cup team.
After all, he would've been a part of the 2018 Fiba Under-18 Asian Championship in Thailand had he gotten his Philippine passport on time last year.
Everything, though, is just a blessing for Spencer, who said: "I'm just glad to be part of it all. I'm just excited to go to Qatar for the trainings and play for the country."
Raised in Victoria, Australia, the 6-foot-3 Spencer can proudly say he now has a good grasp on the clashing styles between the Australian and Filipino brands of basketball.
But it wasn't easy, especially last year when the two national teams figured in an infamous brawl at the Philippine Arena during the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.
"I was still in Australia when that happened. I was just about to fly out for Batang Gilas practice and I definitely caught some smack talk from my Aussie mates," Spencer said.
"I don’t think people outside of the Philippines understand Filipino hoops properly. I think it's something they really have to experience firsthand, to appreciate how we play. There might be that stereotype that we're rough players who are not skillfull and just wanna be rough."
Now, Spencer would like to show the best of both worlds in his stint with Gilas Pilipinas Youth as he vies for a spot in the final roster.
"Now, I can do a lot better than when I first came here," he said. "Coming from Australia, we're not as physical. Filipinos place a lot more pressure on you, especially in the backcourt. That was my adjustment, on the physicality side."