TAIPEI - Now that Jong Uichico has been tasked to coach Gilas Pilipinas in the coming Southeast Asian Games, there's one thing he's very much certain of.
It's gold or bust in Kuala Lumpur.
"We all know na pagdating sa SEA Games, we won't settle for anything less than the gold, so kailangan paghandaan natin,' said Uichico just before Gilas played India in the 39th Jones Cup here.
Uichico is one of Chot Reyes' assistant coaches but will have to take over in Kuala Lumpur due to the fixture pile-up brought about by the proximity of the SEA Games to the Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon.
The Fiba Asia Cup runs from August 8-20 while the basketball competition in the SEA Games will be from August 20 to 26.
Uichico is no longer new to the regional showpiece, having led the Philippines to the gold medal in the 2013 edition in Myanmar. But he also knows it could be one of the most thankless jobs, coaching-wise.
The Philippines has ruled all but one of the SEA Games basketball events it has competed in and anything short of a dominant performance is considered a failure by most fans.
Uichico, however, warned that he doesn't expect a picnic in KL, even if he is bringing in a team that will be led by Fil-German Christian Standhardinger, Kiefer Ravena and Troy Rosario.
"The other teams are going to be strong," said Uichico, pointing out that Gilas' regional rivals didn't field full-strength teams in the Seaba championship in Manila some months back.
"Tayo nagpadala ng malakas sa Seaba, sila hindi naman sila nagpapadala ng malakas dahil gusto nila mag-concentrate sa SEA Games," said the multi-titled PBA coach.
"So I'm sure they're going to send their strongest team to the SEA Games."
Aside from Standhardinger, Ravena, and Rosario, also in the SEA Games lineup are Baser Amer, Mike Tolomia, Von Pessumal, Kevin Ferrer, Carl Bryan Cruz, Almond Vosotros, Raymar Jose, Kobe Paras and Rayray Parks.
However, the final lineup won't be settled until the Gilas Final 12 for the Fiba Asia Cup has been put to bed. There are even unconfirmed reports that Amer has yet to be given the green light for the SEA Games.
Uichico said he expects the final lineup to be finalized when the team returns to Manila on Monday.