MANILA, Philippines (22nd FIBA Asia U18 Championship): Philippines ensured they make the fray for the FIBA Asia U18 Championship for the 19th time when they won the top place at the 8th SEABA U18 Championship while booking their tickets to the 22nd FIBA Asia U18 Championship.
Coach Olsen Racela, a point guard of immense repute during his playing days in the PBA, guided the Energen Pilipinas team with shrewdness as the team won all their four games in the qualifying event to head to Mongolia with their confidence high.
But Racela’s plans may have to wait to take full shape and move in full force as the boys have the enormous task of juggling between training for the U18 team and representing their alma maters in the school tournaments.
“We are aiming to practice three days a week and play some practice games during the weekends,” said Ito Lopa, the manager of the Energen Pilipinas U18 team.
“Getting complete attendance for every practice will be a huge challenge considering that the boys have to start playing the school tournaments starting in July. They (the school tournaments) are equally important for the boys,” Lopa said.
“We will make do the most of what we have and what we can,” Lopa added.
Philippines have won 6 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze in the FIBA Asia U18 Championships, but the last of their medals – a bronze – came way back in 1992 at the Beijing edition of the event. Philippines’ last gold came ten years earlier – at the Manila edition in 1982.
At the 21st FIBA Asia Championship at Sana’A (Yemen) two years ago, Philippines finished a creditable fifth losing to eventual bronze medalists Chinese Taipei 64-81 in the quarterfinals.