SHORT in height but loaded with speed and heart.
It’s how national coach Jong Uichico described the Philippine men’s basketball team bound for the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar following the announcement of the official lineup Thursday.
“It has to be a running team because we don’t have the size. So that’s what the lineup dictates,” said Uichico.
The 12-man lineup for the biennial meet didn’t include De La Salle big man Arnold Van Opstal and pro-bound players Raymond Almazan, Terrence Romeo, and RR Garcia, all of whom were originally named as part of the 19-man training pool formed a month ago.
“I don’t think they were permitted,” Uichico told Spin.ph, referring to the four players.
They Said It!
“It has to be a running team because we don’t have the size. So that’s what the lineup dictates." - nationals coach Jong Uichico
“The lineup was submitted yesterday (Wednesday). Mabilis lang talaga ang proseso, pero okay na naman. Whoever is in the pool, `yun na,” he added.
Almazan, Romeo, and Garcia were picked up in the first round during Sunday’s annual PBA draft.
Uichico said the team can no longer wait for the four players to show up in practice and will just proceed with its training since time is of the essence with just a month to go before the 27th edition of the meet gets underway.
The basketball competition is set on December 8-16 at the Zayar Thiri Indoor Stadium.
“If you make any changes in the lineup during the manager’s meeting sometime in December, it will have to be because the team has an injured player. Now, that’s what’s there. We don’t have much,” said Uichico, who’s also a deputy coach at Meralco.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios urged support for the SEA Games team.
“Coach Jong has assembled a competitive team from the best talent available to him to defend the SEA Games crown,” said Barrios. “Let us rally behind them as they prepare for the challenge ahead, and we wish them well."
With naturalized player Marcus Douthit and alternates Jake Pascaul and Prince Caperal as the only legitimate big men in the team, Uichico is putting premium on speed and quickness as its main assets.
Apart from Douthit, Caperal, and Pascual, also named to the team were Gilas cadets Kevin Alas, Garvo Lanete, Ronald Pascual, and Matt Ganuelas, along with college stars Bobby Ray Parks, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer, Jericho Cruz, and Mark Belo.
Except in 1989, the Philippines has won all the men’s basketball gold since it began participating in the SEA Games in 1977.