FOR the first time ever, an all-pro Philippine basketball team will see action this 30th Southeast Asian Games.
It doesn't need to be emphasized that this Gilas Pilipinas team will be heading out with so much fanfare as the strongest national team on paper to ever see action in the biennial meet. But there's the operative word: on paper.
No more collegiate superstars on the rise. These are bonafide PBA superstars who have already figured things out, save for playing together.
That should be foremost among head coach Tim Cone's concerns as a team bannered by giants June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Christian Standhardinger make its debut on Wednesday against Singapore.
"We don't want to play like an all-star team. We gotta bring more than just being a bunch of good players playing together," said the two-time grand slam coach.
Tip-off for the Filipinos' Group A opener is at 8:15 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena, where a pack that includes Kiefer Ravena, who is on course for a record-setting fifth SEA Games gold medal in basketball. are heavily to win by a wide margin.
But more than the result, Cone will be looking more on how this team of PBA All-Stars can play together after only a few months of once-a-week training.
Singapore, after all, isn't the main threat to the Philippines' bid to win the basketball gold medal for the 13th straight time - and 18th in its 20 stagings. The biggest tests should come from Indonesia and Thailand.