Gilas Pilipinas’ early success in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon is providing inspiration to its second squad bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for this month’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
Head coach Jong Uichico, tasked to guide Gilas 5 to defend its crown in the biennial meet, said his wards are extra motivated after seeing Chot Reyes’ team pulled off a 96-87 stunner over defending champion China and an 84-68 demolition of Iraq to finish No. 1 in Group B of the Asian Cup.
“It is always inspiring to watch our Gilas Pilipinas play their hearts out. It’s all for the country. I’m so glad the players are extra motivated by our performance in Lebanon. They are working really hard. I think everyone is motivated,” Uichico told The Manila Times in a phone interview.
The SEA Games-bound Gilas is on its final phase of preparation for the 11-nation conclave. They beat Ateneo de Manila University (89-79) and Far Eastern University (95-66) in tune-up games.
“We’re doing okay so far and we’re improving based on the games that we played. So prior to the SEA Games, hopefully we are ready. Little by little the chemistry is improving. At the same time, we are improving our strength which is our speed and shooting aside from our defense,” he added.
Uichico’s only concern is their limited scouting reports on the opponents as he expects the teams that saw action in last May’s Southeast Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship, which was hosted and won by the country, will not be the same in Kuala Lumpur.
“I just based my scouting reports in SEABA and I believe they have players that they did not use in the tournament. Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore are the competitive teams in SEA Games,” said Uichico, who also called the shots in the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar.
The team will leave on Friday for Kuala Lumpur and is scheduled to meet National University on Tuesday and Adamson University on Wednesday for another pair of tune-up matches.
The Philippines, which won the gold for 11 straight editions, is in Group A along with host Malaysia, Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar while Group B is composed of Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.
The Gilas players for SEA Games are Chris Standhardinger, Carl Bryan Cruz, Bobby Ray Parks, Kiefer Ravena, Kobe Paras, Troy Rosario, Baser Amer, Mike Tolomia, Kevin Ferrer, Von Pessumal, Almond Vosotros and Raymar Jose.