Gilas Pilipinas U16 team heads into the final phase of its preparation for the Southeast Asian Basketball Association tournament as it wrapped up its bubble camp at the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna on Friday.
Bannered by Kieffer Alas and Daniel Sta. Maria of La Salle Zobel, the squad finished its closed-door, twice-a-day session and is now ready for war in the prestigious regional event set from 16 to 19 July in Jakarta.
Gilas Pilipinas under-16 head coach Josh Reyes supervised the camp and was assisted by former Philippine Basketball Association player Rob Labagala and Far Eastern University mentor Allan Albano.
“We’ve developed camaraderie and also learned the system of Coach Josh Reyes more,” said Labagala, who played in the PBA for Ginebra and TNT, but has embarked on coaching in the youth level.
“With the small amount of time, it was really challenging for us, but we are doing the best way we can to get themselves ready.”
Reyes, the son of Gilas head coach Chot Reyes, said they have to go all out as the regional tourney serves as a qualifier for the FIBA Asia U16 Championship in September.
The Filipinos have also yet to lose in the SEABA tournament since 2015, putting pressure on Reyes and his boys to come up with a solid performance against teams like Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
“We have to be ready because the Batang Gilas has lost to SEA Games teams in the past,” Reyes said.
“The Philippines has lost to Thailand in the past, so it’s not something at the realm of the possibility that we can approach this tournament that we are unbeatable.”
He admitted that they have yet to determine what awaits them in SEABA but they would do everything to be ready.
“We don’t know the kind of players the other countries have because I’m sure, they have something up their sleeves as they decided to push thru with this tournament at the last minute,” Reyes said, referring to the event that wasn’t initially included in the calendar of the International Basketball Federation.