THE Smart Gilas-Pilipinas team opens its Southeast Asia Basketball Association (Seaba) championship campaign on Wednesday with a game against Singapore in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Bannered by Alaska players L.A. Tenorio, Mac Baracael, and Sonny Thoss, the Nationals finally suit up against the Singaporeans at 3 p.m. after drawing an opening-day bye.
After the Singaporeans, the Gilas squad faces Indonesia on Thursday (5 p.m.), Malaysia on Friday (3 p.m.), and Thailand on the final day (5 p.m.).
The six-team meet will have a single round robin, with the team owning the best record winning the championship as well as the right to represent the region in the Fiba-Asia Cup, otherwise known as the Stankovic Cup.
The Seaba champion has been bracketed with world power China, Lebanon, Macau, and the qualifier from the Central Asia Basketball Association (CABA) in Group A. Two-time FIBA-Asia men’s champion Iran leads Group B, where it is joined by Chinese-Taipei, Qatar, Japan, and the qualifier from the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA).
Coach Jong Uichico is calling the shots for the Nationals, who also have NLEX Warriors stalwarts Garvo Lanete, Woody Co, Borgie Hermida, Dave Marcelo, and Eman Monfort, along with Gilas regulars Marcus Douthit, Aldrech Ramos, and Chris Tiu.