BATANG Gilas braces for tougher competition in the 2017 Southeast Asia Basketball Association (Seaba) U-16 Championship with regional neighbors already embracing the practice of recruiting players who have dual citizenship, including those with Filipino lineage.
Team manager Andrew Teh said other countries in the Southeast Asian region have been seeking and recruiting players who have foreign blood as early as the youth level in order to be competitive in international competitions.
A look at the official roster of the teams showed Singapore will have two players with Filipino heritage in Reuben David Faustino Amado and Jack William Santiago Lascado, born in Dasmarinas and Taguig, respectively.
Thailand, meanwhile, is parading Thai-American Aaron Saharat Wadman, who was born in Massachusetts.
“One thing for sure, ‘yung sa zone natin, every year ‘yung mga teams nade-develop na rin ‘yung basketball nila kasi nagkakaroon na sila ng mga Thai-American,” said Teh.
Teh said such practice by other Southeast Asian nations only elevates the level of competition in the region and that the Philippines should step up and not take the opposition lightly.
Batang Gilas has also recruited talent from overseas, including 6-9 Ethan Kirkness and Fil-Nigerian AJ Edu. Kirkness, however, is not available for the Seaba U16 due to another commitment.
“Kung ano na meron tayo ngayon, magkakaroon na rin sila. Matagal na tayong may mga Fil-American or Fil-foreigners. Sila, nagsisimula na sila ng Thai-foreigner, Singapore-foreigner, Malaysia-foreigner,” said Teh.
“Umaangat na rin. We really have to grow para ma-maintain natin ‘yung competitiveness sa atin,” he added.