A LEADING official of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) believes the men’s basketball competition of the 2013 Southeast Asian Games remains a sure gold for the country on the heels of Gilas Pilipinas’ championship stint in a Hong Kong tournament over the weekend.
The cadet pool of the national team is being primed to carry the country’s color in the SEA Games, where the Philippines has dominated the basketball event since joining the biennial meet in 1977.
“Easily, we have a gold medal in basketball,” said SBP deputy executive director Bernie Atienza. “More or less, sure na tayo sa men’s basketball. Ang tanong na lang sa women’s basketball.”
On Sunday, the Gilas Pilipinas of coach Chot Reyes captured the 19th Super Kung Sheung Cup Championship with a team mostly composed of members of the cadet training pool which beat the national teams of Indonesia and Malaysia during the preliminaries.
College star Kevin Alas, one of the top cadet players in the team that was reinforced by naturalized player Marcus Douthit and pros Nino Canaleta and Gary David, was even named MVP of the tournament.
Coach Norman Black steered an all-collegiate national team to the SEA Games gold in Jakarta two years ago even though the squad only began to prepare for the meet shortly the UAAP and NCAA seasons in October.
This time, the cadet pool has the luxury of time as it began training for the regional event as early as last December.
“Kaya sila ini-expose ni coach Chot in time for the SEA Games,” said Atienza.
Black’s SEA Games team had Greg Slaughter, RR Garcia, Jake Pascual, and Garvo Lanete in its lineup, all of whom are also part of the current cadet pool.