Things are looking up for the Gilas Pilipinas Youth squad — literally and figuratively speaking.
The country’s spry twin towers are back together, as the 6’9 US NCAA all freshman team member AJ Edu is reunited with the 7’1 US trained basketball standout Kai Sotto for the upcoming Fiba World Cup U19 tournament in Heraklion, Greece on June 27 to July 8.
The former arrived in the Philippines earlier this week after fulfilling his duties with his NCAA Division 1 school, University of Toledo. The latter, meanwhile, just landed Friday after spending two rigorous months of basketball training in the United States.
In a press release, Sotto’s sports agency East West Private thanked everyone who made Kai’s journey possible — particularly the unwavering efforts of the Samahang Basketball ng PIlipinas (SBP).
“Kai thanks Mr. Al Panlilio and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas for their full support to not only bring him back home to join the team, but also for the financial support so his family could come home and be with him.”
Mentored by head coach Sandy Arespacochaga, the Gilas Youth team recently released its official 14-man roster for the tournament, with big names like Dalph Panopio, Sean Ildefonso, Xyrus Torres, Gerry Abadiano, John Bismarck Lina, Shaun Geoffrey Chiu, Carl Vincent Tamayo, Rhayyan Amsali, Miguel Andre Oczon, Terrence Fortea, and James Daniel Spencer, joining Sotto and Edu.
“The SBP is pleased to announce the 14-man roster of the Gilas Pilipinas Youth U19 that will compete in the FIBA U19 World Cup in Heraklion, Greece,” SBP President Al Panlilio said in a statement.
“We are excited to see how our team, the tallest ever assembled, will compete against the best teams in the world in their age group,” he added.
Panlilio also revealed that the team will embark on a training camp in Doha, Qatar, before flying to Heraklion, Greece.
“The SBP is determined to continue to strengthen the Gilas Pilipinas Youth program. Special thanks to our main sponsor SMART Communications who has been supporting this program for the longest time. It is rewarding to see all our handwork paying off,” Panlilio concluded.
The Philippine quintet is bracketed in Group C, alongside Argentina, Russia, and host Greece. They will play the Greeks first on June 29, followed by the Argentinians on June 30 and the Russians on July 2.
(Image from FIBA)