GILAS Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes expects nothing less than a competitive match against the PBA All-Stars of coach Tim Cone in the centerpiece event of the All-Star Week on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Reyes said the 5 p.m. match will have its usual trimmings of exciting plays, but at the same time expects Gilas to buckle down to work against a side led by James Yap and reigning PBA MVP Arwind Santos.
“It’s an All-Star (game) so it has to still be for the fans, but for sure it’s gonna be competitive,” Reyes said on the eve of the keenly-awaited midseason showpiece.
The Gilas team will be playing against a PBA selection for the second straight year after engaging the All-Stars in a 124-all standoff in last year’s edition in Digos City, Davao del Sur.
Santos, who scored 27 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the 2013 classic, along with Gilas gunner Jeff Chan were named as co-MVPs of that game.
While practice for the past three days has been intense, Reyes said game situations will be the true test for a team that will be playing for the first time since last August's Fiba-Asia championships.
“It’s easy to have fluidity in practice, but the game on Sunday with defense at may kalaban na, that’s going to be an entirely different story,” Reyes said.
"We’re just hoping for the best on Sunday given just two or three days of practice."
On the other hand, Cone said he intends to give equal playing opportunities to all his players even if he has four players from San Mig as well as two from Alaska - all familiar with how the triangle offense is run.
“There’s a lot of good players in the team. I mean we’ve got players like KG (Canaleta of Talk ‘N Text), (Ginebra’s Chris) Ellis and Greg (Slaughter), they all deserve to showcase something so I’ll try to play them all,” said Cone, who only had one practice with the All-Star squad on Saturday morning at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The four Mixers in the selection are Yap, Mark Barroca, Joe Devance and Peter June Simon, while Sonny Thoss and Calvin Abueva are the two players from the Aces.
Rounding out the All-Star lineup are Mac Baracael of Ginebra and San Miguel's Marcio Lassiter.