08 - 16
August 2014
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PHI - Philippines dream to come true at U17 Worlds

MANILA (FIBA U17 World Championship) - It had been a long time coming and now the Philippines can hardly wait to finally live out their dreams and play at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship.

And it just one sign that basketball in the Asian country is becoming better and better.

"For us to finally make it to the world championship is a dream come true, not only for our team but for the entire country," said Philippines coach Michael Ray Jarin.

Philippines were close to reaching both the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship in 2010 and the second edition two years later. But they finished fourth at the FIBA Asia U16 Championship in 2009 and 2011, missing out by one spot in both cases.

The Philippines were defeated in the Third-Place Game by Iran in 2009 and by Japan in 2011. But that changed in 2013 when they knocked off Chinese Taipei in the Semi-Finals of the FIBA Asia U16 Championship and then lost to China to take second place.

"The U17 Worlds is an achievement for all Filipinos. We made history," said the coach.

The Philippines also made history at the men's senior level by reaching the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup - the first time the country will be playing at the tournament since 1978.

When asked how important these two tournaments will be for the development of the game in the country, Jarin said: "This shows that Philippine basketball is shining brightest right now and the future looks good."

As if playing at the U17 Worlds wouldn't be great enough for his young players, Jarin is extremely excited that his team will get to play against the United States as the two teams are drawn in Group A at the tournament running from 8-16 August in Dubai.

"Playing against the USA is a dream come true for all of us because we get a chance to play the best team in the world - the future LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant etc. And all of these countries get a chance to see Philippine basketball," explained the coach.

Jarin said the group, which also includes Angola and Greece, is strong from top to bottom.

"The grouping is very strong, but we are very happy because we get a chance to play different types of basketball, African European and American. All of these countries will be tall, athletic and strong."

It's the opponents' height that may case Jarin's team the biggest issue.

"The weakness is our height. In all of our tournaments in which we competed we are always the smallest," Jarin admitted.

But the Philippines fans can expect a team that will fight.

"In Dubai, people will see how competitive Filipinos are. We will be fighting for every rebound, every loose ball, every possession," Jarin said.

"The strength of this team is their togetherness, the will to compete and play selfless basketball. Speed, smarts, quickness and our heart are our main weapons."

Jarin hasn't put any lofty, unrealistic goals on his team.

"To be successful in Dubai, we should stick with our togetherness, our selfless style of play. As long as we give our best, no matter what the results might be, we will be proud of our achievements."

Just the fact that they will be playing at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship is a big step.