MANILA, Philippines – Despite being favorites to win the title, the Gilas Pilipinas squad refuse to take things for granted as they prepare for battle in the 2017 SEABA Championships starting this Friday, May 12.
The Philippine team, which has won 7 of the past 11 tournament editions it has participated in, is fielding in a mix of youngsters and veterans from the PBA. While the country has previously locked in several blowout victories with collegiate standouts leading the way, the SEABA 12 won’t be relaxing anytime soon as they aim to stay undefeated in this year’s contest.
Assistant coach Jong Uichico eyes at least 3 teams to potentially watch out for come the tourney itself.
“This coming SEABA, ang malakas diyan is Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore – but not necessarily in that order,” said Uichico during the Gilas press conference on Wednesday, May 10. “We should still be prepared for all the teams that we’ll [go up] against.”
Andray Blatche backs the statement, saying that the team will focus on the task at hand and not too much on the winning margins against neighboring countries.
“The number one thing is winning, long as we all come out and do our jobs, that’s enough for me,” shared the naturalized player. “We gotta stay focused and we still gotta compete.”
Team manager Butch Antonio hopes the Gilas pool suiting up for action will all remain healthy for the duration of the regional meet.
“We cannot take things for granted, we have to take this tournament seriously,” noted Antonio. “Pray for our team, that we stay away from injuries and we are all healthy throughout the tournament.”
The 2017 SEABA Championships will serve as the main qualifier for the FIBA Asia Cup happening later this year, as well as the World Cup Qualifiers in 2019.
With homecourt advantage on its side, the Gilas Pilipinas will open its SEABA campaign against Myanmar on Friday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Tip-off is at 7 pm for all Gilas matches. – Rappler.com
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