In the midst of their preparations for the upcoming 2018 FIBA Under-18 Asian Championship, Batang Gilas did not forget to lend a helping hand.
Batang Gilas head coach Josh Reyes and team manager Wilbert Loa organized a tune-up contest between the Philippines Boys Under-18 National Basketball Team and Taishan Senior High School of Taiwan, last Wednesday at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
“What we want to learn from the Philippines is the skill to play basketball and conditioning,” shared Taishan head coach Chen Zhizhong with the help of translator Lim Eng Peng.
Taishan, a school that is competing in the top secondary school league in Taiwan, is a public school. With little budget for its varsity teams, Chen – a former national team player for Chinese-Taipei – makes it a point to collect funds for his team to train abroad on a yearly basis.
As expected, Batang Gilas dominated the young Taiwanese in two 20-minute contests. But the results do not matter for Chen, as he wants his team to absorb all the lessons they can for their upcoming season.
Having faced the Philippines’ youth team in the past, Chen was in awe of the size of this batch of Batang Gilas that includes big men Kai Sotto, AJ Edu, and Geo Chiu.
“When I was 18 years old, I played here in the Philippines for a FIBA tournament. We finished fifth in that tournament,” Chen recalled.
“The height definitely increased. Back then, there were no seven-footers here. And also the strength of the players increased and their approach is more scientific.”
Even if his boys had a blast here in the Philippines, Chen does not know if his team will be granted another opportunity to come back and train here. But if ever he does collect enough funds in the coming years, he will definitely bring the team back.
“Definitely! But the problem will be the budgeting. If we are able to get the budget, we will definitely come back,” he declared.
“Personally, me and my team would like to thank coach Josh for this opportunity.”