IT’S one of the few times where you’ll see the stars with their game face on rather than just smiling and taking it easy during an All-Star Game.
The three All-Star teams representing the country’s three major island groups are expected to give Gilas Pilipinas worthy tune-up as the national team steps up its buildup for the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship.
No coach has been more vocal about that than Visayas team’s Tim Cone, who vowed that his team will bring its A-game in the matchup against the national team in Cebu on Sunday.
“We’re there for a purpose and this is where I’m going to go with our team, this is going to be our approach,” the Ginebra coach said. “It’s not an All-Star game in our minds. We’re there for a purpose to get the national team ready, so I’m going to expect our guys to go out and play hard and take it seriously.”
“That’s the beauty of this kind of All-Star game,” he added. “I’ve never been a fan of All-Star teams because they always kind of just fool around. But because you’re doing something for the national interest, it makes this one exciting.”
Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva, and Japeth Aguilar lead the Gilas cast in Cebu along with Troy Rosario, Raymond Almazan, Allein Maliksi, Jio Jalalon, Roger Pogoy, Von Pessumal, and LA Revilla.
National pool teammates June Mar Fajardo and Terrence Romeo will banner the Visayan team, in which Cone will also have Gin Kings utility man Joe Devance, along with James Yap, Chris Ross, Chris Ellis, Aldrech Ramos, Dondon Hontiveros, Ronald Tubid, Asi Taulava, and Jericho Cruz.
“How much can we get done in one practice in terms of running defense and offense, I don’t know, but we’ll have talent and we’ll do the best with our talent against them,” Cone said as relishes particularly his reunion with Yap.
“I got some really good guys. I’ve got James, a reunion, it’s going to be fun,” the former Purefoods coach said of his former franchise player.
The Visayas team takes on Gilas a day after national coach Chot Reyes is expected to announce his final 12-man lineup for Seaba.
“I understand I’m going to be coaching (against) the final roster, which seems a little unfair to me,” Cone said with a smile. “That’s going to be a tough game for us to win with one practice.”
“My wife is coming down with me so that’s how serious we’re going to be,” he added with a chuckle.