The NCAA and UAAP are willing to lend their players for the national team’s campaign for the FIBA Asia Under-18 Championship in Ulan Bator, Mongolia from Aug. 17 to 26.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios told InterAKTV on Monday night that officials from the two leagues have committed to make their players available to the national team for the competition.
“Communication lines between the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and the country’s two premier collegiate leagues, the UAAP and the NCAA, have gone smoothly,” SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said in a telephone interview.
It was in stark contrast from last season, when several key members of the youth team were unable to suit up for the FIBA Under-16 Championship because of their commitments to their schools, who refused to release them to the national squad. San Beda Red Cubs standouts Arvin Tolentino, Ranbill Tongco, and Gideon Babilonia missed the tournament, as did Gelo Vito of La Salle Greenhills, despite pleas from youth team officials to allow them to join the competition.
The team coached by Olsen Racela fell a game shy of reaching the FIBA Under-17 World Championship.
This year, however, the NCAA management committee headed by Fr. Vic Calvo of Letran has been more welcoming toward the youth tream.
“They’ve agreed to adjust the schedules of the teams na magpapahiram sa amin ng player. Right now, Fr. Vic is already looking ahead of the schedule sa second round of the tournament. Since once a week lang naman halos naglalaro yung 10 teams, hindi masyadong makakaapekto sa scheduling dahil yung mga players who will be loaned will only be out for 11 days or two weeks at most,” said Barrios.
The SBP official added that the UAAP management committee headed by National University athletic director Junel Baculi was just as open toward the youth team.
“They’ve agreed to adjust the schedule of the teams who will loan players in the national youth team,” added Barrios.
The SBP is an umbrella organization that is composed of basketball stakeholders throughout the country, including the NCAA and UAAP. Calvo and Baculi, according to Barrios, represent the two leagues in the board of the SBP.
A top-three finish in the tournament would book the Philippines a ticket to the 2013 FIBA Under-19 World Championship next year.
But despite the help extended by the two leagues to the youth team, Barrios said there’s a need to manage expectations when it comes to this year’s edition of the squad.
Last year, the Under-16 squad also coached by Racela had an opportunity to train for nine months, according to Barrios.
In contrast, this present squad has only been together for three months. The team has encountered some financial problems, spending most of its training period without a sponsor, before TAO Corporation decided to help the team once more before its campaign for the SEABA Under-18 Championship last month.
“This present batch of Under-18 players were composed only last April,” said Barrios. “So between a three-month preparation compared to nine months, malaki yung diperensya.”
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