With high hopes of making it to the FIBA U18 World Cup next year, the Batang Gilas are on their way to Thailand to compete in the FIBA U18 Asian Championship which serves as the qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup.
After grueling months of selection and preparation, Batang Gilas major sponsor Chooks-to-Go gives the boys a heartwarming send-off before they start their adventures in Thailand where they will go up against Lebanon, China and United Arab Emirates. The event was made possible by Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. headed by President Mr. Ronald Mascarinas and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
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Coming in amidst of the withdrawal of Gilas Pilipinas in the 2018 Asian Games as the shadow of the brawl against Australia still haunting them, the Batang Gilas carry with them the hope of a nation to make it to the U19 World Cup after 40 years of absence. Known to support the men’s senior national basketball team, Mascarinas jumped on the opportunity to show his support to these young boys in their quest for glory that will start in Thailand on August 5.
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“The last time we qualified for the Under-18 was in 1979 so if we qualify for the next year’s world cup, it will be 40 years and yung mga fans natin ng basketball sa Pilipinas are really looking forward with a lot of anticipation with the current Under-19 team,” said Mascarinas in his opening remarks on the game.
With what seemed to be the tallest line-up the Philippines has came up with for the U19 qualifiers, the Batang Gilas will be spearheaded by Chooks-to-Go ambassador Kai Sotto who stands 7-foot-1, followed by 6-foot-10 Filipino-Nigerian AJ Edu. Teaming up with Sotto and Edu will be Gilas Cadet Carl Tamayo, Gerry Abadiano, Joshua Ramirez of the NU Bullpups, Raven Cortez of La Salle Zobel, Geo Chiu of Ateneo, Dave Ildefonso, Miguel Oczon from the NU Bulldogs, Rhayyan Amsali of San Beda, Xyrus Torres of FEU, Bismarck Lina of UST, and Dalph Panopio from Italy.
With six players from the said line-up having already played for the U-17 World Cup team earlier this month in Argentina, Coach Reyes will be happy to have Sotto, Tamayo, Abadiano, Lina, Cortez and Chui in his line-up. Another big man will also boost the hopes of the Batang Gilas in 6-foot-10 Dave Ildefonso who happens to be the son of the great Danny Ildefonso.
The team will be mentored by a well-experienced coaching staff with Josh Reyes at the helm. He will then be assisted by Goldwyn Monteverde, Mike Oliver, John Arenas and Gilbert Lao. “Our goal is to win each game so we’ll get the best possible standing after the group stages,” said by head coach Reyes during the send-off dinner.
When asked about the expectations for the said tournament, coach Reyes said “There is a really big expectation on this team, so pressure comes with that. The thing is, we all know this as Filipinos, just because you are the biggest team or the tallest team, that doesn’t mean you will be the best team out there.
Gracing the event as well were the Wheelchair Basketball National Team Pilipinas Warriors who will be playing in the 2018 Asian Para Games in Indonesia on October. ” With what happen sa withdrawal natin doon sa Asian Games, may kapalit naman. Joining us today is our Philippine Warriors, ang ating wheelchair basketball team. This time around, sila ang ating elite Gilas,” said Mascarinas as he introduced the 2017 Asian Para Games Bronze Medalists.
Photo Credits By: INQUIRER Sports