Second generation cagers Kiefer Alas and Daniel Sta. Maria, Mason Amos’ younger brother, CJ, and the team’s newest recruit, Pinoy US-based player Paul Diao, will lead the hopefuls of the Gilas under-16 team that is set to compete in the coming Southeast Asia Basketball Association and they’re now busy preparing under a bubble set up inside the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
Alas, son of multi-titled coach Louie Alas, and younger brother of current Philippine Basketball Association star Kevin Alas of NLEX, heads the aspirants battling for spots in the final roster of the Gilas under-16 squad that will play in the SEABA in Jakarta, Indonesia, a qualifying tournament for the FIBA Asia Championship.
The SEABA tournament will be held from 15 to 19 July.
Alas’ room mate in the twice-a-day, bubble training is Amos, a 6-foot-3 guard, and younger brother of Mason, who became a part of the gold medal-winning Gilas Pilipinas team in the just concluded Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia.
Like Alas, a star player from La Salle Zobel, fans are also curious to see the potential of the younger Amos, who is trying to make waves in the age-group level of the national team similarly accomplished by his elder brother, who is now part of the men’s national basketball team program and will start playing for defending Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines champion, Ateneo.
Sta. Maria, teammate of Alas at La Salle Zobel, is one among the premier front court players of Gilas under-16 team, but he is expected to exceed the skill set of his father, four-peat UAAP champion Adonis Sta. Maria.
Unlike the elder Sta. Maria, a role player until he played in the PBA, Daniel shows a lot of promise, having served as one of the Filipino imports who played in Indonesia a few years ago.
Diao, a standout from West Campus in Sacramento, California, has averaged 6.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game in 20 games the previous season and is ready to shore up the front court of the Batang Gilas team.
Born in Iligan City, Diao along with Sta. Maria will solidify the big men rotation of the squad.
The Gilas under-16 team to be handled by Josh Reyes and being managed by Dean Castano, had started their twice-a-day, closed-door sessions on Monday and will train until the weekend before preparing to leave for Indonesia.
Joining Alas, Diao, Sta. Maria and Amos in the bubble training are the other aspirants like Champ Arejola of La Salle Zobel, son of current PBA board governor Erick Arejola of NorthPort, Kurt Velasquez and Joaquin Ludavice of University of Santo Tomas, and Brian Hachuela and Gian Gomez of La Salle Greenhills.