Heavy favorite Gilas not taking anyone lightly in Seaba, says Chot
Tipped as overwhelming favorite, Gilas Pilipinas is wary of complacency heading into the 2017 Seaba Championship which begins on Friday.
The Philippines, led by naturalized center Andray Blatche and three-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, are gunning for its eighth title in the tournament after dominating the previous edition two years ago with an average winning margin of 26 points.
That Gilas squad steamrolled to the championship despite fielding in collegiate and amateur standouts and not having a naturalized player.
Still, having Blatche coupled with the country’s cream of the crop this time, won’t assure Gilas the crown and a Fiba Asia Cup berth.
The former NBA veteran Blatche said part of his responsibility as one of the team’s leaders is to ensure his teammates will approach each game with the right mindset.
“Keep the guys whole and keep us together. I gotta make sure that we remember why we’re doing this and that’s to compete,” Blatche said. “I don’t want us to be big-headed just because everyone thinks we’re gonna win but things don’t come easy.”
Fajardo said Gilas cannot afford to be overconfident and instead, the team needs to stay focused regardless of the kind of competition it will be facing.
“We cannot be complacent that’s why if we have to give ourselves an even greater chance of winning, we should do it because this tournament is our ticket to the Fiba Asia and having Andray is a big plus for us,” Fajardo said in Filipino.
National team head coach Chot Reyes echoed his players’ sentiments. Reyes assured Gilas, which faces unranked Myanmar on Friday, will play true to form and take every game seriously.
“We’re not really looking at that too much,” Reyes said when asked about which opponents are to watch out for. “The traditional powerhouses aside from us are Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.”
“But still, we’re not about to take anyone lightly, we’re not about to take anyone for granted but we are concentrating and focused on putting out our best every game.”
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