‘We have enough,’ says Chris Ross as Gilas departs for gold mission
Gilas Pilipinas left for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia late Saturday night, pinning its hopes of reclaiming the basketball gold it once held on the chemistry and camaraderie it has manufactured over the past weeks.
National coach Chot Reyes was undeniably high on the 15-man pool after a short camp at Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
“We were able to get a lot of things done. Not only in terms of what we wanted to do in terms of basketball skills but also our team skills,” he said shortly after the final practice at Meralco Gym earlier Saturday.
“I think we have a really good chance,” he said.
“I was questioning going into it, thinking why we can’t just practice here [in Manila], but when we got [to Calamba] and got our work in, I found out why coach Chot wanted to do it. It worked wonders for us,” said Chris Ross, who will be skippering the Final 12 that will try to reinstate the Philippines as the region’s basketball power.
“In that short amount of time, we built so much chemistry,” he added.
The pool will be without Jeremiah Gray, who suffered a leg injury, but will still have Ross, Justin Brownlee, Christian Standhardinger, CJ Perez, Calvin Oftana, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Newsome. Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, Mason Amos, Arvin Tolentino, Jerom Lastimosa, Aaron Black, Mike and Ben Phillips complete the group from which the squad will be culled.
Reyes and assistant coaches Tim Cone, Jong Uichico and Josh Reyes are expected to name the final roster during the managers meeting Sunday in Phnom Penh, less than 48 hours before Gilas kicks off its bid against Malaysia.
“While we do like our chances and I think we have a better team now—not [better] individual players but a better team—so [has] the opposition. Our competition has significantly improved,” Reyes said. Indonesia and Thailand are reportedly fielding three naturalized players for the SEA Games.
“We know that these teams aren’t just gonna lay down. A lot of teams are beefing up. But all the guys are ready for the challenge,” said Ross. “The guys we have here have plenty of championship experience. We have enough to go out there and win the gold.”
Meanwhile, Reyes revealed that Gilas will be playing against Estonia and Finland and hopefully Latvia and “a couple more” nations when it flies to Europe for its training camp in preparation for its homestand in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup in August.
The Philippines is grouped with the Dominican Republic, Angola and Italy in Group A of the showcase that will dangle a slot to the Paris Olympic Games.