What: The FIBA-Asia U16 Championship
Where: Nhatrang, Vietnam
When: Starts next Tuesday, October 18, 2011
West Asia: Iraq, Lebanon, Iran
Gulf: Qatar (replaced Bahrain), Saudi Arabia
Middle Asia: India, Uzbekistan
East Asia: China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan
Southeast Asia: Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam
*A 16th team (from East Asia, probably should've been Hong Kong) was supposed to join, but eventually no team registered for the slot.
Who's on Our Team?
J-Jay Alejandro - Malayan/Mapua
Henry Asilum - Sacred Heart School Cebu
Hubert Cani - La Salle Greenhills
Andrei Caracut - San Beda
Nic Dalafu - Victory Christian International
Rev Diputado - Sacred Heart School Cebu
Isaac Go - Xavier School
Jordan Heading - Morrison HS Taiwan
Jay Javelosa - Reedley International
Kyles Lao - Xavier School
Earl Murphy - Ateneo de Manila
Daryl Pascual - Univ. of Perpetual Help
Tomas Ramos - Ateneo de Manila
Rash Rivero - National Univ.
Head Coach: Olsen Racela
*Several key players who helped the team run away with the 2011 SEABA U16 crown will miss the Nhatrang joust due to commitments with their school teams in the ongoing NCAA wars. These are:
Gelo Vito - La Salle Greenhilss
Ranbill Tongco - San Beda
Gideon Babilonia - San Beda
Arvin Tolentino - San Beda
**Fil-Am Louie Brill (Maryland, USA) will also miss the tournament.
How Do We Stack Up?
Talent Gap: Missing our most consistent big man (Vito), our top scorer (Tolentino), and one of our best playmakers (Tongco). Needless to say, we'll have our work cut out for us. And compared to some of the other Asian players like China's Zhou Qi who have more substantial international experience, we can expect Energen to have a tougher time in Nhatrang than Smart-Gilas did in Wuhan.
Size Disadvantage: Average Height for our boys is 179.79 cm or almost 5'11.' With the absence of Vito and Babilonia, our three tallest guys are Isaac Go (6'6'), Jay Javelosa (listed at about 6'3'), and Daryl Pascual (6'4').
By comparison, here are the Average Height figures for the tournament favorites:
China: 197.67 cm or almost 6'6'; Tallest is Zhou Qi at 7'1' (not a typo)
Iraq (WABA U16 champs): 183.17 cm or about 6'0'; Tallest are Ismael Ismael and Ali Abdulhussein, each at 6'5'
South Korea: 187.50 cm or about 6'2'; Tallest is Park In-Tae at 6'8'
Lebanon: 187.50 cm or about 6'2' as well; Tallest is Yaacoub Al-Agha at 6'9'
Japan: 184.33 cm or a little more than 6'0'; Tallest are Sugiura Yusei and Yamamoto Kenta, each at 6'4'
Awful Sniping: To compensate for the aforementioned weakness, we should have at least respectable outside shooting, right? Wrong. In the 2011 SEABA U16 joust, Energen shot just 12/65 from 3-point land or 18.5% for all four of its games. Oops.
Group Play: Despite its missing stars, Energen should still trounce both Indonesia and Vietnam convincingly. I doubt if they'll win by more than 30 in each game, but this early set should give coach Racela an opportunity to test some possible player combinations and spot the chinks in the armor. Because there are just 3 teams in our group, we're sure to advance to Round 2.
Second Round: If everything goes according to form, then we'll face Iran, Japan and the Saudis. We should beat Saudi, but Japan and Iran will both be tough, even if both teams failed to win their respective sub-group tournaments. Still, this group is much lighter than the other one, which has China, WABA Champs Iraq, Lebanon and South Korea. If we had a full roster, we'd have a good shot at top spot in Round 2, but given the absences, we could fall as far down as #3.
Knockout Stages: In all probability, we'll face wither Iraq or South Korea in the quarterfinals, and we'll be the underdogs against either squad. That doesn't mean we'll get eliminated easily, but for Energen to break into the Top 4, then they'll have to bring their A-game here. All in all, matching the Top 4 finish of the Kiefer Ravena-led edition in 2009 will be a major success already. Breaking into the Championship game and/or actually bagging the Asian crown will be considered miraculous! Go Pilipinas!