Gilas aims for title defense at SEA Games
MANILA, Philippines – The Gilas cadets are ready to repeat their gold medal finish in the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, the team captain of the Philippine men's basketball team said in a send-off presser held on Thursday, August 17.
Kiefer Ravena, 4-time SEA Games participant and team captain, said that the Philippine team will be keeping a close watch over other contending teams, when asked about the level of competition displayed by teams like Thailand and Indonesia.
"Kung anuman sinasabi nila na (If they're saying that) they’re catching up, we will show them that they still have a lot of catching up to do. But we have to back that up," Ravena said.
"We know that we have a good basketball progam. You know that they are putting us in a good situation to succeed, so it’s still up to us on how we will take it into action," he added.
Ravena leads the 12-man lineup along with co-veterans Troy Rosario and Baser Amer. Cal State Northridge player Kobe Paras and Filipino-German Christian Standhardinger will make their debut in this year's SEAG tournament.
Standhardinger, who participated in the ongoing FIBA Asia Cup 2017, headed back to Manila on Thursday, as the team was to leave for Kuala Lumpur noontime Friday, August 18.
Philippines has only dropped one gold medal throughout its entire course in the SEA Games, which was surrendered to Malaysia in the 1989 SEA Games. The kings of basketball had to settle for a silver medal finish then.
The team had been participating in tune-up games with top UAAP collegiate squads such as the Ateneo Blue Eagles, FEU Tamaraws, NU Bulldogs, and the Adamson Falcons in preparation for the upcoming challengers in the SEAG.
The Philippines will play in Group A together with Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Gilas Pilipinas will go head-to-head with Thailand in their first match on Sunday, August 20.
The Thai roster features Thai-American guard Tyler Lamb and athletic forward Chitchai Ananti who will challenge the Philippines on the defensive end.
"The only advantage Thailand has is you [got to be] be solid defensively. You can’t just reach and gamble and give them easy opportunities," said former Thailand national basketball team coach Tim Lewis. "You know, the key for Gilas is really the defensive side;we’ll find ways to score."
Lewis is assisting head coach Jong Uichico in preparing the cadets for the upcoming competition. – Rappler.com