Gilas boys ready for FIBA U-17 World Cup gauntlet

Gilas boys ready for FIBA U-17 World Cup gauntlet
From left: Gilas boys head coach Josh Reyes, Irus Chua, Kieffer Alas and Paul Diao.

MANILA, Philippines – The Gilas Pilipinas boys are not heading to the FIBA U-17 Basketball World Cup scheduled from June 29 to July 7 in Istanbul, Turkey blindfolded.

“When we say we are going up against the best, we are going up against the best,” said head coach Josh Reyes in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

When Reyes said “the best,” he was referring to Lithuania for their opening game, then Spain and then Puerto Rico, certified heavyweights in the basketball world.

“Lithuania is competing for the podium and Spain will try to win it all. They are a European powerhouse. For sure, in this team are future NBA players,” said Reyes, who was joined at the head table by players Kieffer Alas, Irus Chua and Paul Diao. 

“It’s a very daunting task on the world stage. But we prepared for this so we can deliver a performance worthy of the Philippine flag,” added Reyes during the weekly forum  presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, MILO, Smart/PLDT and the 24/7 sports app in the country, ArenaPlus.

In the last FIBA Under-17 World Cup in Argentina, Gilas failed to win a single game in the group stage but won three in the classification matches, including games against China and New Zealand.

But the young Gilas players are embracing the challenge.

“We want to prove them na hindi lang tayo pang Asia,” said Alas, son of former PBA head coach Louie Alas and brother of Gilas veteran Kevin Alas.

The squad started training last March and just wrapped up a short weeklong camp in Laguna. They leave for Istanbul on June 22 or one week before they face the Lithuanians.

“We don’t have any delusions. It will be an uphill battle but that’s the reason we are preparing hard. And no matter what the situation is, we want to perform to the best of our abilities whether we are ahead or down big,” said Reyes, son of longtime Gilas coach Chot Reyes.

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