NEWLY-CROWNED Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) National Juniors Mindanao under-17 champion Holy Child School of Davao (HCSD) Reds are shooting for no less than the crown when the SBP national finals get going early next month in Cebu City.
HCSD Reds assistant coach Roger Rabago, who represented head coach Ildefonso Cunanan in Thursday's Davao Sportswriters Association (DSA) Forum at the Tower Inn, said they are confident with the team's chances for the national championship.
"We stand a good chance in the coming championship because our rival teams will also be composed of players the same age as ours. We have started conditioning and other training preparations," Rabago said.
Rabago said the full-court defense, which Cunanan used for his squad in the Mindanao finals held in Zamboanga over the weekend, is expected to be very useful in the nationals against powerhouse teams from the National Capital Region (NCR) and the Visayas.
Six-foot-two team captain Mario Emmanuel Bonleon Jr., who powered the Reds to a 102-84 victory over Sacred Heart Montessori School of Cagayan de Oro in the championship game with his 41 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, five blocks and two steals, said he looks forward to leading his team again in the national event.
"I'm happy that we will represent Mindanao to the nationals. We are excited to play our game," Bonleon said.
He thanked the City Government of Davao for funding their trip to Zamboanga as well as his parents, HCSD management, parents of his teammates and schoolmates and SBP regional director Regino "Boy" Cua for their support and prayers.
Power forward Jeson Delfinado said the will definitely rely on their defense in the national finals.
"I am expected to play good defense to boost our team's chances in Cebu," Delfinado said.
Joshua Dave Aguilon added: "I will put defensive pressure and also help in scoring and rebound for my team. We are ready to play in the nationals. We have played with NCR teams in the past and we have beaten them on some occasions."
Holy Child, managed by lawyer Joni Leuterio, is also composed of Hermogenes Maning, Daniel Ryan Sumalinog, Ian Flaviano, Dan Abraham Miedes, Christopher Jay Gavia, Mark Anthony Olayon, Zairill Jules Carbonell, Ian Vonn Kristopher Restauro, and Renzar Henry Asilum. Nestor Sorosa is the other assistant coach.