There are no lofty expectations for Gilas Pilipinas Youth when the team heads to the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup in Greece. But there is a goal they must meet.
Four days before the team left for Doha, Qatar to join a pocket tournament, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas sent off the Philippine Under-19 Boys’ Basketball Team at the Meralco Lighthouse in Pasig.
Making it to another World Cup in youth basketball is a testament to the upward trajectory of the program.
“This is our third World Cup in six years,” said SBP President Al Panlilio as Batang Gilas competed in the 2014 and 2018 Under-17 World Cup. “We’re very proud that we’re progressing in our programs. We really created a pillar for this Gilas Youth.
“This is a program that we want to do well,” the amiable executive continued.
The SBP’s goal for the senior’s squad for their World Cup is to finish in the round of 16. For this squad, Panlilio wants them to make it to at least the top eight in the 16-nation tourney.
“MVP [Manny V. Pangilinan] gave them a top sixteen finish. I want this team to have a higher finish than that.”
The youth team will feature Kai Sotto, AJ Edu, Gerry Abadiano, Bismarck Lina, Geo Chiu, Carl Tamayo, Rhayyan Amsali, Joshua Ramirez, Migs Oczon, Dave Ildefonso, Terrence Fortea, James Spencer, and Dalph Panopio. Meanwhile, Sandy Arespacochaga, will head the coaching staff, alongside JB Sison, Ryan Betia, and Anton Altamirano.
The Philippines have a tough group, as they are slotted in Pool D together with Greece, Argentina, and Russia.
Though the young Filipinos face an uphill battle come the global meet, Arespacochaga is confident that his team will be competitive.
“We have a tough schedule but we also have tough players.”
Moreover, Arespacochaga is not just satisfied that the country is competing in the tournament for the first time in 40 years. They are in it to win it.
“We will not go to Greece just to participate. Our goal is to try to win.”