Nothing but a workout for PH 5
It may look like an overkill but the overwhelming show of strength so far by Gilas Pilipinas in the ongoing Seaba (Southeast Asian Basketball Association) Championship is merely the start of a long buildup for an ambitious drive to make it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Formed barely two weeks ago, the Seaba tilt offered the national five a chance to finally work together as a unit along with naturalized player Andray Blatche, who flew in from the US and had only five training sessions with his new teammates before Gilas’ first game against Burma (Myanmar) last Friday.
A sweep by Gilas of the Seaba event even minus Blatche is a no-brainer with the country’s acknowledged basketball supremacy in the Southeast Asian Games.
But with the Seaba rewarding only the winner a slot in the Fiba Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon this August, Gilas coach Chot Reyes is leaving nothing to chance this time. The Fiba Asia Cup entries will later compete in the Asia/Oceania qualifiers starting in November leading to the 2019 World Cup in China where the top two teams will advance to the Tokyo Olympics.
As expected, Gilas has been nothing short of sensational in its first two Seaba games. For the first time in PH sports history, a national five won by over 100 points as Gilas rumbled to an unforgiving 147-40 rout of Burma then followed it up with a 113-66 massacre of Singapore Saturday.
Burma was never in the game with Gilas starting with a 17-point blitz. The Burmese made only seven points in the first quarter and five in the second period while Gilas had 66 at halftime.
Coach Reyes said the utter humiliation dealt on Burma was unintentional with previous PH teams absorbing the same rude treatment on the international level.
“We’ve been on the opposite end of the table. So many times in the past, we’re the smaller on all matchups in all positions. So we know how it feels. We decided we would play the same kind of intensity and effort even if we’re the favored team,” Reyes said.
Singapore showed a lot more basketball sense than Burma but Gilas was in a class of its own with rookies Allein Maliksi, Mathew Wright and RR Pogoy flashing a lot of promise in partnership with veterans June Mar Fajardo, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar and Jayson Castro.
Gilas was scheduled against Malaysia at presstime Sunday night. After a rest day Monday, the Filipinos return to action against Thailand on Tuesday, Vietnam on Wednesday and Indonesia on Thursday.
The Thais and the Indonesians also have two victories each so far in the single-round tournament where ties will be decided by quotient system. Indonesia opened up with a 71-50 rout of Singapore before outclassing Malaysia 63-42. Thailand also downed Malaysia, 74-67, then whipped Vietnam, 76-51.
Indonesia has been rated as the most likely Gilas rival for the title, but the Filipinos are unfazed. Against Singapore, Gilas matched Indonesia’s total output of 63 in beating Malaysia after only two quarters.
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