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Gilas battles Thailand in SEAG hoops opener

Gilas Pilipinas will face Thailand in the opening day of the basketball competition of the 29th Southeast Asian Games at the MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia today.

Gilas, led by professional players Troy Rosario, Carl Bryan Cruz, Baser Amer and under coach Jong Uichico, begins its quest for its 18th gold medal in the SEA Games at 9:30 p.m. after the 7:15 p.m. match between Singapore and Philippines in the women’s side.

The other members of the team are Kobe Paras Bobby Ray Parks, Mike Tolomia, Kiefer Ravena, Von Pessumal, Almond Vosotros, Kevin Ferrer and Raymar Jose.

The 6’8 Filipino-German Christian Standhardinger is expected to arrive Saturday night to fortify Gilas’ lineup.

Thailand won the bronze medal in the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship in Manila in May. The Philippines ruled the meet but several players key to the country’s dominance of the meet namely naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche, Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo are not playing in this year’s edition of the biennial sporting event.

The Philippines won 80-75 over Thailand in the semifinals then beat Indonesia, 72-64, in the finals of the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

“We have to play like it is a championship game,” Uichico told The Manila Times through an online message.

Chitchai Ananti, Thailand’s leading scorer in the SEABA with a record of 16.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists average in four games, is expected to lead the Thais.

The Philippines lost to Malaysia in the finals of the 1989 SEA Games that the Malaysians hosted.

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