JOLO Mendoza and Gian Mamuyac hope to set good examples for the Batang Gilas Pilipinas cagers when they compete in the Seaba Under-18 Championship starting on Saturday in Medan, Indonesia.
The two incoming Ateneo Blue Eagles were chosen by national head coach Mike Oliver as co-captains of the Under-18 team to the cagefest that will also serve as a qualifier for this year’s Fiba-Asia Under-18 Championship in Iran.
“Sila ang may experience when it comes to international competition,” explained Oliver.
The 18-year-old Mendoza said it was a dream come true to be named team captain as he brings his experience from playing in the 2014 Fiba Under-17 World Championship to the current core of Batang Gilas cagers.
“Isa siyang blessing,” said Mendoza. “Ever since I was a kid, gusto ko maglaro para sa country. Nabigyan ako ng privilege three years ago. Now, isa ako sa mga seniors. Isang napakagandang blessing na captain ako."
“I’m willing to do my best for the country,” said Mendoza.
Mendoza is expected to spearhead Batang Gilas’ offense after averaging 12.6 points for the Philippines in the 2014 world championship.
On the other hand, the 17-year-old Mamuyac is surprised to be picked as co-captain.
“Nagulat po ako kasi ako ang isa sa mga pinakabata. Ako 1999, pero most of my teammates, 1998. Hindi ko inexpect na magiging team captain ako,” said Mamuyac.
Mamuyac, however, was a member of last year’s Batang Gilas squad in the Fiba-Asia Under-16 Championship, giving Oliver a reason to select him as captain.
“Co-captain ako before nung Under-16, and same system naman ‘yung ginagawa ni Coach Mike so I guess naging factor din ‘yun,” said Mamuyac.
Mamuyac stressed that his focus will be on defense as the team is already loaded with scorers in Mendoza, Joshua Sinclair, and Evan Nelle, among others.
“Siguro different role ako ngayon as a defensive stopper. Before umiiskor ako, pero ngayon, may scorers na kami so I guess iba ‘yung role ko ngayon,” said Mamuyac.
The Batang Gilas cagers begin their campaign in the Seaba Under-18 on Saturday against Thailand.