Talking to Batang Gilas head coach Mike Oliver

Q: After two fourth-placed finishes in the first two editions, Philippines got to
the final in 2013 – and their first FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup
experience. Then in 2015 they lost to Japan in the Quarter-Finals. What
does this team want to learn from the last generation?

Mike Oliver: Basically, earlier preparation. Our school leagues have
different schedules and it is very difficult to decide on a line-up right up to
the last minute. Our problems are also the same as the senior national
team. Composition-wise, we are looking at fielding a taller, faster, and more
athletic team.

Q: The 2015 team also became the first in FIBA U16 Asia Championship
history to beat China – beating them in the second group stage. How
important will that be for this team, knowing that China is not unbeatable?
Mike Oliver: It is important that we know we can beat the top teams. But we
have to build on that. We cannot say we beat China then next time around
we don’t beat anyone. We have to continue in our progression as a team.

Q: After three semi-Final appearances in four editions, what are the
expectations/objectives in this event?

Mike Oliver: We will just take it one game at a time. That is how it is. If we
say big things then people will expect. We are in a tough bracket with
Australia so we will just do our best.

Q: What are some of the biggest strengths of this team, and how will they
help you win games?
Mike Oliver: We have taller players who can play a variety of styles —half
court of uptempo. We want to be able to rebound and run.

Q: Who do you see as your one or two leading players? What makes each
of them so important?

Mike Oliver: Kai Sotto of course. Forthsky Padrigao who will run our
offense. But everyone is important. Kai will anchor our defense and provide
scoring down low. Forthsky will run our offense and help get everyone in
the flow of our system.

Q: What are you expecting from them at this tournament?
Mike Oliver: To be leaders.

Q: Knowing that you will have some more size than usual, how will that
change how this Philippines team might play in the tournament?
Mike Oliver: We might be able to run a bit more.

Q: The Philippines have reached the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup one
time. How important is it for the development of the program to qualify for
Argentina?
Mike Oliver: It is important because we are trying build teams through age
groups and grow them together. Then if possible, move up to the senior
national team.

Q: Australia and New Zealand are playing in the competition for the first
time. What kind of expectations do you have of them being in the event?
Mike Oliver: They will set the tone for the tournament. And no team will be
complacent.