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Hopes high on young cagers

‘I think everyone is focused on the task at hand.’

ALL eyes will be on Kieffer Alas and the Filipinos when they open their campaign in the SEABA U16 Men’s Championship on Monday. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF INSPIRE SPORTS ACADEMY

Despite various challenges in its preparation, Gilas Pilipinas is beaming with confidence when it opens its campaign against Malaysia in the Southeast Asia Basketball Association U16 Men’s Championship on Monday at the GOR CLS in Surabaya, Indonesia.

Game time is at 5 p.m. with the Filipinos tipped to come up with a strong performance in this tournament that they have been dominating for the past few years.

Gilas coach Josh Reyes said they are focused on winning over the Malaysians to gain confidence heading into their match against Thailand on Tuesday and Indonesia on Wednesday.

“I think everyone is focused on the task at hand. We will come in ready,” said Reyes, whose squad had difficulty booking a flight to Indonesia and nearly lost its man in the middle, 6-foot-5 Paul Diao, to injury.

Kieffer Alas, the son of former Philippine Basketball Association mentor Louie Alas and brother of NLEX guard Kevin Alas, believes that they have enough talent to compete against the best players in the region.

He said they have already established good chemistry following their closed-door training at the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna.

“I think we have talented players in the team,” Alas, who has been donning to colors of De La Salle Zobel in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, said.

“We have also established good chemistry in the short period of time that we were together.”

Playing in Indonesia is nothing new for Alas.

Together with Daniel Sta. Maria, Alas was recruited to play as import for the Indo Muda U13 squad in the 8th Asia Pacific Basketball Youth Cup.

After that, he participated in a pair of National Basketball Association-organized youth camps, the NBA Academy Asia Development Cup in Singapore and the Basketball Without Borders Asia in Abu Dhabi.

Aside from Alas, also set to see action for Gilas are Diao, Irus Chua, and CJ Amos, the younger brother of Gilas standout mason Amos.

Other members include Ziv Gabriel Espinas, Elijah Mark Williams, Joaquin Gabriel Ludovice, Kurt Nathan Velasquez, Bryan Hachuela, Edryn Morales, Bonn Ervin Daja and Gian Gomez.

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