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July 2016
Joshua SINCLAIR (Philippines)
16/07/2016
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Philippines U18 squad aiming to surprise

MANILA (2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship) - The youth teams of the Philippines have been quite competitive these past few years, but they have seldom found their footing at the podium of Asia’s continental tournaments. With the exception of Batang Gilas’s unexpected run in the 2013 FIBA Asia U16 Championship, the Philippines have found themselves outside looking in when competing at this level.

Last year, coach Michael Oliver’s squad shocked Asia when they dealt China their first ever loss at the U16 level, and this time around, Batang Gilas are looking to surprise again at the 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship in Tehran, Iran.

Only three players from coach Oliver’s U16 squad are in tow this year - Jonas Tibayan (1.90m/6ft 3in), Harvey Pagsanjan (1.83m) and Gian Mamuyac (1.83m) - while a veteran of the 2013 U16 team and the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship squad, Jolo Mendoza (1.78m), is set to be the team’s undisputed leader.

 Philippines 12-player roster for 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship   
 JB Bahio Kemark Cariño Theo Flores JV Gallego
Rendell Lee AJ Madrigal Gian Mamuyac Harvey Pagsanjan
Jolo Mendoza Josh Sinclair Jonas Tibayan Fran Yu

Mendoza was the leading scorer of the Batang Gilas team (16.6 points per game) that finished second behind China in the 2013 FIBA Asia U16 Championship. He was also the team’s most lethal offensive weapon in the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship (12.6 points per game), and he is certain to be a marked man in Tehran.

Another guy to watch is Filipino-Australian Joshua Sinclair (1.93m), who was the team's leader in the SEABA U16 Championship earlier this year with 15.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Whereas Mendoza will be the Filipinos' main perimeter threat, coach Oliver will count on Sinclair, who also saw action for the Philippines in the 2016 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship, to be among his most dependable players in the frontline along with other key big men like JB Bahio (1.96m) and Kemark Carino (2.03m).

Philippines are with China, Chinese Taipei, India, Iraq and Thailand in Group A of the tournament, and the Pinoys will definitely need to be in sharp form if they are to make it past the group stage. As always, Batang Gilas will sacrifice a lot of size against most of their foes, and they will have to compensate with their speed and shooting. Oliver's wards are set to open their account against Chinese Taipei on July 22.

In the other group are last year's U16 champions Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon and hosts Iran.

The top three teams at the end of this competition will qualify for the 2017 FIBA U19 World Championship, which will be played in Cairo, Egypt.

FIBA