Cagayan de Oro native Roldan Sara is part of the Nokia-Pilipinas under-18 basketball team as the Philippines opens its campaign against unpredictable Malaysia at the start of the Southeast Asia Basketball Association U-18 Championship in Yangon, Myanmar.

Keeping the core of his team for the past two years, RP Youth team coach Eric Altamirano believes familiarity will play a key role for his squad.

“We have eight players that have been together for the past two years. We’re prepared, but we cannot relax,” said Altamirano. “We have yet to see our opponents, so it’s really hard to gauge our chances here.”

Altamirano will be assisted by former University of the Philippines Maroons’ teammate Joey Guanio, Victor Ycasiano, Mon Jose and American trainer Dan Rose.

The Filipinos arrived here last Friday, and went down to serious business the next couple of days at the Kyeik Gymnasium, a 45-minute drive from Central Hotel at Bogyoke Aung Sanb Road in Yangon Town, where they are billeted.

The national youth cagers battle the Malaysians starting at 12 noon in a triple header that will open up hostilities of this six-nation tournament at the Thuwonna Stadium. The tournament serves as a qualifying event for the FIBA Asia Under-18 Championship in Yemen this September.

After a brief opening ceremony, Myanmar takes on Laos at 10 a.m. while Thailand and Singapore fight it out at 2 p.m.

Aside from Roldan Sara, other members of the national youth team are Kiefer Ravena, Rafael Banal, Jeron Teng, Rolfe Von Pessumal, Joshua Angelo Alolino, Russel Escoto, Cederick Labingisa, Jethroy Rosario, Cris Michael Tolomia, Kyles Neypes, and Kevin Ferrer.

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