Chot Reyes goes all-in for SEABA tourney with all-PBA Gilas

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By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--The SBP will send a PBA-loaded Gilas lineup for the SEABA Championship.

Coach Chot Reyes bared on Sunday night that the 24-man Gilas pool will be the basis for the SEABA squad as qualification for the FIBA Asia Cup is on the line in the tournament.

"That's the plan. Kailangang nating ipanalo yung SEABA to enable us to play in the FIBA Asia [Cup]. We fully intend to bring the strongest team sa SEABA," Reyes said during the press conference at the PhilSports Arena succeeding the announcement of the pool.

The state of Southeast Asian basketball today is a far cry from before, when the Philippines simply imposed its will over its neighbors and that an opposing side keeping it close with the Philippines, if not winning the game, is already considered an upset.

With the "ABL effect" in full bloom, not to mention one of the league's members sending its developmental squad in the PBA D-League, and that some Southeast Asian teams now also looking into naturalization as an option to bolster their lineups, Reyes wants to make sure this time.

"We all know that the Southeast Asian neighbors have already caught up because meron na silang sariling tournament and then they have the ABL. We used to send college players, but they were up against pros, kaya mahirap. Now, we already know that Indonesia has a naturalized player. I think Thailand is also going to have a naturalized player. That's why we have to bring our best. Dati, sureball yung Southeast Asia. Now, it's no longer [the case]," he further commented.

This will not be the first time an all-pro Philippine team will join the SEABA Championship as a group of MBA stars drubbed its opponents en route to the 2001 title at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila.

Only the SEABA champion will march on to the FIBA Asia Cup, where the top 14 teams there will earn outright seats to the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.

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