Sinag Pilipinas starts gold medal quest vs Cambodia
JAKARTA—A Philippine five that has played together only for three weeks opens its quest for what many feel is a sure gold medal against lightweight Cambodia in basketball action of the 26th Southeast Asian Games Monday.
Chris Tiu, the last cut from the team that won the gold in 2007 in Thailand, banners the squad made up of standouts from both the NCAA and the UAAP who reported only to coach Norman Black after their respective leagues ended recently.
Gametime is 11 a.m. (12 noon in Manila) at the BritAma Arena in Kelapa Gading with the Filipinos expected to use the match as a virtual workout.
The technical meeting was to be held late Sunday night and according to the PH coaching staff, Santo Tomas stalwarts Jeric Teng and Jeric Fortuna as well as Ateneo’s Justin Chua will be dropped from the final 12-man roster.
Certain countries are reportedly questioning the inclusion of Dave Marcelo, the NCAA Finals MVP with San Beda, over a technicality, and in case Marcelo gets thumbed down, Chua will take his place.
The women’s team also debuts Monday against Malaysia at 1 p.m. with the Discovery Perlas ng Pilipinas cagebelles given a strong chance of taking a first-ever gold in the Games.
The Nationals go into the tournament after winning the Southeast Asian Basketball Association championship last year in Manila against basically the same field here.
Melissa Jacobs, a holdover from the squad spiced by Fil-Ams that represented the Philippines in 2007 in Thailand, former UAAP MVP Cassy Tioseco and Joan Grajales are the main cogs of the team.
Bannered by now-PBA star Gabe Norwood, Al Vergara and Beau Belga, the Filipinos were unchallenged in Nakhon Ratchasima before the sport was shelved two yeas ago in Laos.
It is the same ruthless form that the country expects from Black’s wards, who dropped three of their five practice games back home before flying over.
The Philippines failed to win the gold in these Games just once in its history, in 1989, when it was upset by Malaysia.
“We will focus on defense and running the fastbreak and run our zone defense because we expect them (the field) to play us zone,” Black said after the team practice Sunday morning.