Batang Gilas were left racing against time following the organizers’ last-minute decision to push through the Southeast Asia Basketball Association U16 tournament.
Batang Gilas coach Josh Reyes admitted that time is not on their side as they assemble a competitive team that will compete in the prestigious regional event set from 15 to 19 July in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Reyes, in fact, had to beg off from joining the Gilas Pilipinas training in Europe to make sure that the team will be prepared when it sees action in the tourney that serves as a qualifying event for the FIBA U16 Asia Cup in September.
The Filipinos have ruled the U16 tourney, including the last edition in 2017 with Kai Sotto at the helm.
But Reyes said the coming tourney will be quite challenging as they only learned that the event will push through last week.
“We’ve only learned six days ago that there will be a SEABA tournament next month,” Reyes told Daily Tribune in an interview.
“The announcement of the qualifiers were all announced a month before, but all of a sudden, there’s a SEABA tournament that will happen.”
“Now all the documents needed and lineups have to be submitted next week. We’re now in a time crunch to do all these things.”
Reyes, son of the current Gilas head coach, said the SEABA tournament wasn’t on their radar as they are more focused on the FIBA U16 Asia Cup.
“When I started a couple of months ago, I have a particular time line, so we weren’t practicing everyday as I was following a timeline before September,” he said.
“But now, all those things have to change. We have to adjust, be more agile and adapt quickly to prepare right away for the qualifiers next month in Indonesia.”
“It was a little bit of surprise because when the calendar was given three months ago, this wasn’t in the calendar at all. The memo was emailed six days ago. It’s a good thing we were already starting so the preparation is there.”
A 19-man pool is currently training and four more Filipino players based in the United States are going to come in to try out for the final 12.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas will announce the four players who will join the pool in the coming days.
Reyes said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Indonesians parade a powerhouse roster.
“I won’t be surprised if they have something up their sleeves that’s why they scheduled this. We just have to be ready for any possibilities and we have to really prepare and be ready because Batang Gilas has lost to Southeast Asian teams in the past. They’ve lost to teams like Thailand in the past.”
The only way SEABA can be reset or canceled is if teams won’t submit their rosters in time, according to Reyes.
“It’s a short turnaround. We have to get things together right away and so far, it’s looking good. The kids are showing up every day in practice and they’re ready to work,” Reyes said.
“We’re on target in terms of preparations. We need to do well in SEABA for us to qualify in the September FIBA Asia tournament.”