By REYNALD MAGALLON
CALAMBA, Laguna — The Gilas Pilipinas youth men’s team is working double time at the Inspire Sports Academy as it tries to speed up the process of forming a one cohesive unit in time for the U16 SEABA tournament in Jakarta, Indonesia on July 15 to 19.
Gilas U16 head coach Josh Reyes said the coaching staff is putting their best effort to expedite the learning curve of the 18-man pool since the announcement of the tournament came in short notice.
The pool, which has the likes of young guns Kieffer Alas, Champ Arejola and Irus Chua, has been in the Laguna training camp since the start of the month in preparation for its games against Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia in the tournament which serves as a qualifier to the FIBA U16 Asian Championship set in Doha in September.
Both Alas and Chua joined NBA Academy Development Camp early this year.
Knowing the caliber of the young stars, especially on the offensive end, the focus for Gilas is to establish its defense identity especially that they are also clueless of what kind of teams they could be facing.
Thailand and Indonesia, for one, also have players who were invited to the NBA Academy, which could pose a threat to Gilas.
“In terms of offensive sets, they fairly got it pretty easily, the majority of these guys are coming off really, really good programs, they’ve been coached by very very good coaches that’s why they are at what they are at,” said Reyes.
“The challenge really is the defensive side kasi iba-iba talaga some players sanay sila press, some players sanay sila puro zone, some players sanay sila gapping, shrinking the floor and just really backline defense so what we want to do is something in the middle, we can zone a little bit, we can pressure, that’s were the real work comes in is having a very cohesive defensive system,” he added.
Gilas is still expected to play tuneup games against UAAP schools before flying for Jakarta on July 15.