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29 June
07 July, 2019
Sandy Arespacochaga
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Arespacochaga tapped to coach Philippines at U19 World Cup

MANILA (Philippines) - After months of being in limbo, the Philippines' U19 national team finally have their new head coach in Alexander "Sandy" Arespacochaga.

Arespacochaga may be an unfamiliar name to many in the international basketball community, but he has paid his dues and learned from some of the best. He currently serves as deputy to former national team head coach Tab Baldwin and also helped out as an advanced scout for Team Pilipinas in the last FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers window under coach Yeng Guiao.

The 44-year-old Arespacochaga takes over the Batang Gilas U19 reins after the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) chose him to replace former coach Josh Reyes, who helmed the squad at last year's FIBA U18 Asia Championship in Thailand.

Arespacochaga has had extensive experience coaching at the high school level in the Philippines, earning a couple of high school basketball championships. He has also built a reputation for being one of the finest motivators and teachers of youth talents, and that is what Batang Gilas fans can expect as he steers the squad when they compete at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019 later this year in Heraklion, Greece.

No less than SBP president Al Panlilio has expressed his confidence that Arespacochaga is the perfect man for the job.

"Sandy has proven his worth as a youth basketball coach," Panlilio said. "He has won championships in the high school level and has been an active member of the highly successful Ateneo college basketball program."

Arespacochaga is expected to call up the tallest U19 Philippines squad in history. Current US NCAA stalwart AJ Edu (6ft 11in/2.10m) will be joined by NBA hopeful Kai Sotto (7ft 2in/2.18m) and Stellazzurra playmaker Dalph Panopio in addition to some of the best high school and college players in the Philippines.

"Batang Gilas U19 has performed well," added Panlilio. "It is important that we give them a great fighting chance to win games and get the valuable experience necessary to be competitive in that age group consistently."

Apart from notching wins on the court, however, the SBP is also hoping Arespacochaga can lay the groundwork for a renewed Batang Gilas program that will guide the players into representing the country as well as possible whether on or off the hardwood.

"Sandy is a natural teacher who uses his strong communication skills and low key personality to get the best out of his personnel," Panlilio shared. "With his help, we will teach our young players to not only play good basketball but more importantly, conduct themselves positively inside and outside the basketball court."

The Philippines are grouped with Argentina, Russia and hosts Greece for the U19 World Cup and will tip their campaign off on June 29 against Greece.