Uichico aware of PH’s rich cage history as he calls shots in SEAG
TAIPEI – Jong Uichico will call the shots for Gilas Pilipinas in the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur late next month, and knowing the country’s history, the multi-titled coach knows that there is pressure to deliver.
“It’s the gold (medal) that matters,” Uichico said on Saturday while munching on a candy bar, moments before Gilas was to play its penultimate game in the Jones Cup Invitational here. “They (other countries) will surely be sending strong teams.”
Uichico feels that, while the Philippines sends its best teams in bigger regional events like the Asian Games and the Asian Championship, the country’s foes in Kuala Lumpur are concentrated on unseating the Filipinos for the longest time as kings of Southeast Asia.
“Those countries believe that the SEAG is the tournament they have to concentrate on,” he said. “We sent our best team to the SEABA (Southeast Asian Basketball Association championship, the qualifier for the Fiba Asia) and I don’t think they (opponents) did.”
Gilas was made up of multimillionaire PBA stars in the SEABA and it was reinforced by naturalized center Andray Blatche as the country didn’t take anything to chance.
The result was a bamboozling of the field many thought to be overkill.
In Kuala Lumpur, Uichico will have Christian Standhardinger and young members of the Cadet program that counts amateur Kiefer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks, Raymar Jose and Kobe Paras.
Baser Amer, Mike Tolomia, Von Pessumal, Kevin Ferrer, Carl Cruz, Almond Vosotros and Troy Rosario are the other members of the team.
The Philippines failed to win the gold medal just once, in 1989, also in Malaysia, interestingly enough.
“We’ll give them a few days (off) after this tournament before going to work,” Uichico, who won the 2013 gold in Palembang, said.
Jimmy Alapag, the Gilas shooting legend, will be Uichico’s assistant in Kuala Lumpur and Chot Reyes and son Josh will be calling the shots for the PBA superstars-composed National Five that will play in the Fiba Asia Championship in Lebanon the week before.
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