Despite the lack of big names from the high school ranks, head coach Mike Oliver has a lot of faith in the newly-formed Batang Gilas that will compete in the SEABA Under-18 Championship.
With the help of the management and his coaching staff, Oliver said they handpicked the players whom they think will thrive within the run-and-gun system which they will apply when they face off against their Southeast Asian rivals.
“Sabihin na nila na mas may magagaling pa sa kanila, pero ang kinuha nating players definitely ay yung magpi-fit sa system natin,” Oliver told FOX Sports.
True enough, some marquee players playing in the UAAP and NCAA like Aljun Melecio, Javi de Llano, Ricci Rivero were left out of the Final 12 but Oliver explained it was all for tactical decision.
“Most of the time, magkakaroon tayo ng transition offense, and at the same time gusto natin loaded tayo ng shooters kaya halos sinacfrice natin ng konti ‘yung bigs sa sa guard position,” he said.
Bannered by returnees Jolo Mendoza and Gian Mamuyac of Ateneo, the Batang Gilas squad will also feature some unfamiliar but equally-talented players like like Rendell Lee of Xavier, JB Bahio of San Beda, Joshua Sinclair of NU, and AJ Madrigal of La Salle Greenhills.
“Di naman natin malalampasan ng tangkad ang kalaban pero ma-a-outrun natin sila,” added Oliver.
As the Batang Gilas brace for another dominant run in the regional qualifier, Oliver doesn’t want to look past yet the opposition.
“Alam natin na ready tayo. Pinaghandaan natin ‘yung tournament, so tingnan nalang natin kasi as of now, hindi pa natin alam kung sinong makakalaban nating malakas,” Oliver said. – By Jason Mercene
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH