At 6-foot-nine, 16-year-old Filipino-Nigerian basketballer AJ Edu stands out from a crowd with ease. Discovered by Ateneo team manager Epok Quimpo in a worldwide search, Edu is a prime candidate for inclusion in the Batang Gilas program under the auspices of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
The discovery comes on the heels of newly elected SBP president Al Panlilio’s push for a dedicated scouting program for half-Filipino players to bolster the Batang Gilas pool that would, eventually, form a competitive national squad.
“AJ learned to play basketball at an early age,” said Litang, who flew in with AJ last week to check out the local basketball scene. “He was the MVP in the U16 leagues in Wales and England. AJ has also played in Filipino leagues. He’s been scouted by English coaches and that’s why he’s lined up for the SGS.” SGS is the South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, known as one of the UK’s finest sporting institutions.
Currently, Edu is planning to enroll in SGS, but hasn’t ruled out a possible transfer to Ateneo later on, having been impressed by the enthusiasm and passion which homegrown Pinoys devote to their favotrite sport. Indeed, after taking in the PBA games at Araneta Coliseum last week, Edu was quoted as saying, “I like the basketball atmosphere.”
The Philippines may ave come in as 7th out of 12 teams at the FIBA Asia U18 Championships held in Tehran last month, but the next time around may have very different results, especially if the likes of Edu are included in the ranks.
According to Gilas logistics handler Andrew Teh, “We’re hoping AJ decides to enroll in Manila and play for Gilas in the next FIBA Asia U18 Championships in 2018.”