by Waylon Galvez
Gilas Pilipinas Youth coach Sandy Arespacochaga said yesterday they need to play extraordinarily if they are to figure prominently in the FIBA Under-19 World Cup set June 29 to July 7 in Heraklion, Greece.
But despite the great odds, Arespacochaga is confident his boys will give their best shot each game when they face the likes of Russia, Argentina and host nation Greece.
“It’s gonna be an uphill battle for us every game. We’ve been telling our boys. Our opponents are stronger. It would require more from us. We’re demanding more from us. But it’s not going to be individual, it’s going to take a whole team,” said Areapacochaga in Monday’s send off for the team held at Meralco office in Pasig City.
“That’s what we’ve been focusing on (chemistry). We’ve got tremendous effort from these guys buying in what we plan to do. We will not go to Greece just to participate. Our goal is to try to win,” he added.
The team, which is bannered by Kai Sotto, the 7-foot-2 center who is the youngest member as he turned 17 years old last month, and AJ Edu – the 6-foot-10 Filipino-Cypriot, leaves Friday for Qatar to play two tuneup games.
They travel to Greece on June 27 and then plays the host country on opening day on June 29, Argentina on June 30, takes a break on July 1, and then battles Russia on July 2 to determine the placing in Group C going to the second round.
Teams from Group C meet teams from Group D composed of China, Puerto Rico, France and Serbia in a crossover knockout match. Gilas Youth earned a spot in the World Cup as it finished fourth overall in last year’s FIBA U-18 Asian Championship in Nonthaburi, Thailand.