MANILA, Philippines - Batang Gilas got the luck of the draw in the FIBA-Asia Under-18 Championship as it gained an outright stint in second round outright even before the event is fired off Tuesday in Doha, Qatar.
The Filipinos made it to Group B alongside the sharp-shooting South Koreans and Jordanians with the three teams automatically advancing to the next round since their bracket is the only one among the four groups with three teams. The rest have four members each.
China, India, Malaysia and host Qatar is bracketed in Group A, Bahrain, Iran, Kazakhstan and Kuwait make up Group C while Group D is composed of Hong Kong, Iraq, Japan and Chinese Taipei.
Coach Jamike Jarin along with Jose Go IV of Ateneo and Andres Paul Desiderio of UP have recently joined the team in Doha just a few days after the U-17 team wound up 15th in a field of 16 in the FIBA Under-17 World Championship in Dubai.
The other members of the squad are Norman Aaron Black of Ateneo, Dave Wilson Yu, Manuel Isidro Mosqueda III and Mark Anthony Dyke of National U, Richard Escoto and Brandrey Bienes of Far Eastern U, Joshua Andrei Caracut and Ranbill Tongco of San Beda, Leonard Santillan of University of the Visayas and Kobe Paras of LA Cathedral.
The 10-day tournament is staking three slots for the 2015 FIBA Under-19 World Championship in Greece.
The Filipinos, who made it to the FIBA U-17 World Championship in Dubai last week after finishing second in the FIBA-Asia U-16 Championship in Iran last year, hope to defy the odds again against a slew of tall, talented teams.
Batang Gilas’ tallest player is the 6-7 Paras, son of former PBA rookie MVP Benjie Paras who is in the United Sates trying his luck in a US NCAA Division I school while the 6-5 Santillan is a top find from Cebu’s University of the Visayas.
Batang Gilas drew a bye in today’s opener and will open its campaign against Jordan today at 2 p.m. (Phl time).
The Filipinos will then battle the Koreans Wednesday, also at 2 p.m.
The top three teams after the first round will advance to the second round composed of two brackets with six teams each.