SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios cautioned the Philippine men’s basketball team against taking the competition lightly in the Southeast Asian Games.
Barrios made the advice a week before coach Jong Uichico and the rest of the nationals depart for Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar for the 27th edition of the biennial meet.
“Hindi tayo puwedeng pa-easy easy dahil nakakahiya tayo pare-pareho,” said Barrios, aware of how high odds are in favor of the Filipinos retaining the basketball gold for the ninth straight time.
Despite fancied to win the title again, the men’s team isn’t about to take chances by adding naturalized player Marcus Douthit to its already star-studded roster.
“That is why the expectations are high lalo na’t nandyan si Marcus,” added Barrios, noting how the Sinag Pilipinas team in 2011 won the gold even without Douthit reinforcing the nationals.
Douthit is the starting big man of the Gilas Pilipinas team bound for the 2014 Fiba-World Cup in Spain.
But the SBP official is confident Uichico can take control of the situation.
“I’d like to think na ‘yung mga players natin, very competitive in spirit and attitude. Puro mga champion players din ‘yan. Leadership by example naman si coach Jong. Nakita ko na ‘yung work niya at ganoon siya kaseryoso dito,” Barrios said.
The former PBA commissioner also echoed Uichico’s reminder for the team to play hard not only in games but also in practices.
“I took off from the last sentence of ‘yung paalala ni coach Jong which is `think seriously even in practice games.’ I just told them the expectations of the country are very high not only of the public but also officials of the sports community (Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee) and Mr. (Manny) Pangilinan.
“We should come home no less as champions and convincingly at that,” said Barrios of his pep talk with the team during Thursday’s practice at the Ynares Sports Arena.
Uichico formed the core of the unit behind the Gilas cadet pool, before adding a slew of college stars both from the UAAP and the NCAA.
The team is set to leave for Myanmar on December 4 for the basketball competitions slated from December 8 to 16.