FROM the get-go, Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone warned the men's national team not to treat the 30th Southeast Asian Games like an All-Star Game.
And after Wednesday's dominant 110-58 win over Singapore to open its campaign, he's happy to note that his players did heed his words.
"I thought we took a serious approach to the game. All-Star Games are loosey-goosey, guys can take up any shot they want and they'll play defense when they feel like it," he said.
"But our guys took a serious approach. I think they're trying to show the country that they're gonna take a serious approach and respect the game, respect the opponent, and come out and play hard, play the game right."
June Mar Fajardo also echoed those statements, noting that those earlier proclamations was taken by the team to heart.
"Dapat lang ituloy-tuloy namin yung laro ng team," the five-time PBA MVP said. "Sabi nga ni coach Tim, ayaw niya maging All-Star itong team na ito. Ayaw niya yung All-Star mentality. Gusto niya seryosohin namin yung laro."
Overconfidence was far from the vocabulary of this Philippine team, with Stanley Pringle quick on setting the tone in the rout with a 30-13 first quarter assault.
But more than the offensive onslaught, Cone was more than happy with the defensive effort his side had, with the Filipinos limiting Singapore to just 32-percent shooting from the field and winning the rebounding battle, 52 to 35.
"You can see the display of talent on the floor, guys can shoot it, guys can push the ball on the floor. But what I'm most proud of about is that first play of the game when Chris Ross blocked the shot of (Wong Wei) Long. He's their star player and right off the bat, we sent the message that we're gonna play defense against them," he said, keeping his fingers crossed that this kind of tenacity will be sustained all-tournament long.
"I'm hoping we can sustain our defense as we go along and improve it as we go along. Guys are locked in on the defensive side. That, as a coach, is looking for the most. I know they're gonna score, I know they're gonna do their thing offensively, but I still want them to still focus on the defensive side."