MANILA, Philippines – The tournaments just keep rolling for the future of Philippine basketball as Batang Gilas is set to fly out for the FIBA Under-18 Asian Championship from August 5 to 11 in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
Despite the lack of time to form a tightly-knit group, head coach Josh Reyes likes what he’s seeing from his tall squad, which is now bolstered by 6-foot-10 Fil-Nigerian Ariel John “AJ” Edu and 6-foot-1 Fil-Italian point guard Dalph Panopio.
“I really like the attitude of everyone here,” Reyes said. “They’re giving their all. They’re giving their complete focus. Madali naman nilang napi-pick up lahat (They can easily pick up things). Good thing that we had that short buildup before we left for the [FIBA U17] Worlds so they’re quite familiar with some of the stuff.” (READ: Batang Gilas nabs record-high World Cup finish)
“Another positive is we have smart players now,” he stressed. “I think we have players who have really high basketball IQ. Dalph definitely raises our IQ here. AJ, Kai [Sotto] [have] always been high-IQ [guys]. That will definitely help things progress along the way. And the maturity – I’ve seen great improvement in the maturity and understanding of the game from the guys who came from the World Cup.”
The addition of Edu, a US-NCAA Division I prospect, on the front lines with the 7-foot-1 Sotto and 6-foot-7 Raven Cortez will hopefully patch up the loss of versatile National University (NU) Bullpups standout Carl Tamayo, who has been ruled out of the entire U18 tournament due to recurring foot problems.
“No, no [he won’t be playing],” said Reyes. “It’s not bone spurs. Definitely too young to have bone spurs, but he’s feeling a lot of pain in his foot. After discussing with his coaches and Carl [himself]. Just by the information given to us, he can’t go.”
The 6-foot-7 Tamayo had been a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable World Cup stint, where he averaged 10.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in his first-ever Batang Gilas tournament. The 3-position big man had his best game against top-ranked France where he tallied a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double in the losing effort.
Joining Sotto, Edu, Panopio and Cortez in the U18 roster – which has a listed average height of 6-foot-4 – are NU point guard Gerry Abadiano, NU swingman and UAAP juniors champion Dave Ildefonso, Ateneo bruiser Geoff Chiu, top San Beda recruit Rhayyan Amsali, NU prospects Migz Oczon and Joshua Ramirez and Far Eastern University’s Xyrus Torres. – Rappler.com
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