By Gil Moriones
ON Friday, the Gilas Pilipinas will start their week-long campaign in the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship in Manila.
To make sure for the lone spot in Group B for the 2019 Asian Qualifiers, national team head coach Chot Reyes loaded the roster with veteran and younger cadets to make up the valiant team in the tourney including naturalized player Andray Blatche.
If we survey the recent campaign of the Philippine team against these teams, it is clear that we are the king of this zone, bagging the most gold medals in the SEABA and the SEA Games’ men’s basketball event.
But if recent events are to be considered, it may not be a walk in the park anymore.
In the 2015 SEA Games, Thailand gave Gilas a fight in the semifinals of the tourney bringing the gap to within single digits, but the Filipinos survive through the hostile come-from-behind strategy by the Thais, 80-75.
Another case was the 2015 FIBA Asia Cup, where the Philippines yielded to lightweight Palestine by just two points, 75-73.
It served as the “wake-up” call for them to rout the teams on their road to Rio.
Since the format of the bid to qualify in the 2019 World Cup in China was changed, it is a crucial decision for Reyes to roll the dice for both veteran and young players.
Everything shouldn’t be compromised, not even the homecourt advantage.
If we didn’t make through the top spot of the tourney, our bid to our sixth appearance in the World Cup will vanish, so much preparation and best effort to their week-long campaign are the secret to proceed in their battle en route to China.
(Disclaimer: The views of the writer do not necessarily reflect those of Dugout Philippines.)
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