By Drei Christopher Villanueva
In the next two years, the Philippine youth basketball team will have triple towers representing the country in major international tournaments.
Batang Gilas team manager Andrew Teh made this confirmation after making sure they will have 6-foot-9, 14-year-old Fil-Aussie Ethan Kirkness, who will be joining the team’s 16-under squad for training this year. Kirkness, who has started undergoing training with former Australian NBL star Greg Fox as early as last year, will be teaming up with 6-foot-10 player, Kai Sotto.
The son of former PBA player Ervin Sotto, Kai was the MVP of last year’s Jr. NBA training Camps presented by Alaska.
Currently, there are plans to bring in AJ Edu, a 6-foot-9 Filipino-Nigerian.
“The future looks bright for Batang Gilas,” said Teh, speaking on the eligibility of the three three towering frontliners to play over the next two years.
Amazingly, Kirkness was discovered by Batang Gilas thru Facebook.
“Ang unang napansin kasi namin, malaki siya,” saif Teh. “May nag post ng litrato niya sa Facebook and nung nalaman naming Fil-Aussie siya, we decided to get in touch with the parents.”
A few months ago, Edu visited the country at a time when he was on a vacation. While he has been playing in the United States, he has committed to playing for the Philippine national team.
For their part, Teh and his group made sure they will do the necessary steps to make sure Edu and Kirkness will be eligible to play in the near future. “Both players are now Philippine passport holders,” said The. “We’ve also notified FIBA about their current status.”
Under FIBA rules, half bred players should have obtained passports of the country they will be representing before they reach the age of 17. In the past, this ruling has made players such as Stanley Pringle and Chris Banchero ineligible to represent the Philippines in major events.
With the Philippines now getting a chance to play crack teams from the Asia Oceania region like Australia and New Zealand, players like Edu, Sotto and Kirkness on board for the next two years will provide the Philippines the size it has been lacking the previous years.
Two years ago, the Philippines made it to the World Under-18 championship, but its campaigns in the last two age group world qualifying events ended in a whimper. For 2017, Batang Gilas will be pinning their hopes on their new triple towers helping fulfill the country’s dreams of metal wins on the world stage.
Image sources: Spin.ph