The Gilas Pilipinas Youth team knows they face a daunting task as they continue preparations for the FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece starting June 29. The Gilas Pilipinas Youth face Greece, Argentina, and Russia in the preliminary stage. The Gilas Pilipinas Youth squad has a simple goal against some of the world's top young basketball players.
"Our opponents are stronger. It would require more from us. We're demanding more from us. But it's gonna be individual. It's gonna take a whole team," coach Sandy Arespacochaga said. "We will not go to Greece just to participate. Our goal is to try to win."
With one of the strongest and tallest lineups the Philippines has fielded in youth competition, the team's frontcourt will be patrolled by Kai Sotto and AJ Edu, two big men that has proven their worth in international play. Helping Sotto and Edu are guards Gerry Abadiano, Migs Oczon, Terrence Fortea, Joshua Ramirez and Fil-Italian Dalph Panopio.
They will be joined by Bismarck Lina, Geo Chiu, and Carl Tamayo, a menacing lineup that can clog the paint at any given time.
Scorers Rhayaan Amsali, Dave Ildefonso, and James Spencer round out the squad.
Before proceeding to the big stage, the Gilas Youth will be playing two tuneup games in the Philippines before heading to Doha, Qatar on June 21, where they will participate in their final training camp and play two more exhibition games. The team will also will be interacting with the various Filipino communities in Doha and the Consulate.
In their third U19 World Cup in six years, Sahamang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al Panlilo wants his team to draw inspiration from their older counterparts who are preparing for the FIBA World Cup in China.
"It's privilege to have that flag and name on your chest. Just continue representing it and the rest will follow," said Panilio.
For Sotto and Edu, who both represented the country in the FIBA U18 World Cup, their experience in banging bodies with their foreign peers have left an indelible mark in their style of play.
"It's something that should be on our minds. It's really a great opportunity. Philippines being a part of U19 World Cup is an experience that we should not take for granted," Edu said.