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‘E-Gilas’ Five a ‘Dream Team’ in Fiba Esports Open

By: Louie Greg A. Rivera - Inquirer.net | June 18,2020 - 07:19 AM

In this basketball game, height won’t be a problem for Filipinos.

When the dribblers of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ (SBP) “E-Gilas” squad take the court in the Fiba Esports Open on June 19, they won’t be physical underdogs against international opponents.

“In my many years in basketball, I never imagined the game will be played where height is not might,” SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said. “You don’t need brawn or height; you only need to play smart and you will excel.”

The Philippine squad won’t be disadvantaged athletically either. The tournament will feature players controlling their avatars in an NBA 2K game.

And all Filipino avatars are graded 99, the highest rating a digital player can get in NBA 2K. This makes coach Niele Alparas confident that he has a virtual “Dream Team” as not all squads in the Fiba tournament will field “all-99” rosters.

“To really push this at this time where I think … people are looking for competition, this is something,” SBP president Al Panlilio said. “Using technology, as a way to bring competition back into the mainstream.”

“With this tournament, we can showcase basketball again through esports,” said Clark Banzon, the Philippines’ starting power froward.

The team has been training regularly, sometimes even lasting up to eight to 10 hours a day, and will test Indonesia in its first encounter.

“They have their strengths and weaknesses; I won’t dive much into it, but they are a good team,” said Philippe Alcaraz Herrero IV, the Filipinos’ starting center.

According to Filipino starting shooting guard Rial Polog Jr., individually they have been grinding for years but they all hoped of someday representing the country.

“And today that dream is now a reality. I am so happy and honored,” Polog said.

Together with Polog, Herrero and Banzon, guard Aljon Cruzin and small forward Custer Galas round up the starters for the Philippine team.

Rocky Braña and David John Timajo will come off the bench.

Games will be streamed live on the Facebook pages of SBP and Fiba as well as Fiba’s YouTube channel.

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