ALTHOUGH the Philippines is the overwhelming favorite, head coach Tab Baldwin doesn’t want to take any chances and is risk embarrassment for the Gilas cadets in the Southeast Asian Games.
Winners of the SEA Games basketball competition 11 out of the 12 times, Gilas is heavily favored to improve that mark.
The Philippines’ strength in the Southeast Asian region was once again re-affirmed earlier this month when the country captured the 11th Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship title by a winning margin of 68.4 points.
But Baldwin said they simply can’t take things lightly in the SEA Games.
“It only takes a very poor performance on our part, and the opponent having a great game. Then, all of a sudden, you’re embarrassed,” said Baldwin in an interview with Sports Radio 918.
The Philippines begins its campaign in the men’s basketball competition on June 10 against Indonesia in Group A play. They will also play Malaysia and Timor Leste with the top two teams in each group advancing to the semifinals.
Baldwin said he sees Seaba runner-up Malaysia, Singapore, and possibly Indonesia as the teams that could give the Philippines a tough time in the SEA Games.
“Malaysia and Singapore, those two teams probably represent the upper tier along with us. Depending on how they will strengthen their roster, Indonesia could also lift be at their level,” said Baldwin.
The Philippines recently had to make a minor change to the squad, inserting Baser Amer and Prince Rivero for Bobby Ray Parks and Arnold Van Opstal. They will be joined by some of the finest amateur players in the country in Kiefer Ravena, Scottie Thompson, Mac Belo, Troy Rosario, Jiovani Jalalon, Almond Vosotros, Norbert Torres, Kevin Ferrer, and Glenn Khobuntin.
Just for good measure, naturalized player Marcus Douthit has also been lined up for the SEA Games.