by Waylon Galvez
Gilas Pilipinas Youth member AJ Edu said chemistry is one thing that is already in place for the national team as they compete in the FIBA Under-19 World Cup next week in Heraklion, Greece.
A year after playing with the likes of Kai Sotto and Geo Chiu, Edu said they have already known each other’s strengths and weaknesses which could be a big plus going to the competition where they are in Group C with host nation Greece, Argentina and Russia.
“I really like the chemistry,” said the 6-foot-10 Edu in Tuesday’s PSA Forum at Amelie Hotel in Manila. “After a year I think we’ve improved skills wise, and the chemistry is there. We can only get better from last year.”
Of the 14-man roster forwarded by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) for the U-19 World Cup, only three are newcomers in Carl Tamayo, Terrence Fortea and James Spencer.
The other players inn the team that placed fourth in the FIBA Asia U-18 in Nonthaburi,Thailand that earned the team a spot in this event are Xyrus Torres, Gerry Abadiano, John Bismarck Lina, Rhayyan Amsali, Joshua Ramirez, Miguel Andre Oczon, Sean Dave Ildefonso and Rome-based Dalhp Adem Panopio.
However, considering the youth team has three new members and a new coach in Sandy Arespacochaga, Gilas Youth team manager Andrew Teh said the team should continue to develop chemistry.
“We really want to build on chemistry,” said Teh. “We’re bringing in 14 players, including one player from Italy, Dalph Panopio. He’ll be joining us in Qatar, so he’s new to the system of coach Sandy.”
Teh said this is the tallest they’ve assembled for the youth team with the 7-foot-2 Sotto, the 6-foot-10 Chiu and Edu manning the post, but he mentioned that they are also up against bigger and taller opponents.
“It’s a very competitive group, but we’re hoping to get two wins,” Teh said.
The team played the men’s team of University of the East in a tune up match Tuesday night at the Meralco gym, and will battle the senior’s squad of Far Eastern University Thursday, before they leave for Doha this Friday for training camp and two friendly games against pro team Al-Rayyan.