Height, speed are keys for Kai Sotto and Batang Gilas in FIBA Asian Championships

ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 20, 2018 04:06 PM
Height, speed are keys for Kai Sotto, Batang Gilas
“We have a combination of height and speed. At least hindi na tayo kawawa sa ilalim unlike before. Hindi na tayo undersized sa mga kalaban natin,” - coach Michael Oliver (FILE PHOTO)

The Philippine youth team bannered by promising big man Kai Sotto,will bank on height and speed for its coming campaign in the FIBA U16 Asian Championships in Foshan, China from April 2-8.

The 15-year-old Sotto, who recently led Ateneo to the UAAP juniors basketball championship, serves as the centerpiece of the 12-man team of coach Michael Oliver which also counts on Rafael Go, Raven Cortez, McLaude Guadana, Terrence Fortea, Recaredo Christian Calimag, Rence Padrigao,, and Shaun Geofrrey Chiu – all of whom suited up for the Batang Gilas squad that won the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) juniors championship held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last year.

Newcomers include Jerick Kyle Bautista, Joshua Rafael Lazaro, Yukien Andrada, and King Balaga.

“We have a combination of height and speed. At least hindi na tayo kawawa sa ilalim unlike before. Hindi na tayo undersized sa mga kalaban natin,” said Oliver.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios, who, was with Oliver and Batang Gilas co-team manager Andrew Teh and Wilbert Loa in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Tapa King Restaurant at the Farmers Center in Cubao, said seven Batang Gilas players are above six feet, including Sotto who stands 7-foot-1, Chiu, who is 6-foot-8, and Cortez at 6-foot-7.

Chiu and McLaude joined the team together with deputy coach MC Abolucion in the session presented by San Miguel Corp., Tapa King, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

The country is bracketed in Group B with powerhouse Australia and Malaysia.

The host country leads Group A together with New Zealand and Hong Kong, Group C will have Iran, Chinese Taipei, and Macau, while Group D is composed of Korea, Japan, Lebanon, and India.

In all, 13 countries are seeing action in the week-long event.

Barrios said the meet was supposed to be held last year shortly after the SEABA meet, but had to be moved to this year as FIBA failed to find a willing host.

The top four countries to finish in the meet will represent Asia to the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup in Argentina next year.

As per tournament format, the best placed team in each group will qualify directly to the knockout stage starting with the quarterfinals. The second and third place teams will proceed to the playoff round.

It won’t be easy, according to Oliver, since the team didn’t get to practice with a full roster until after the end of the UAAP season.

“Naghahabol talaga kami sa training. Daily practices kami as much as possible,” said the Batang Gilas coach.

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