IT’S the case of little brother coming to the defense of its elder.
Members of the Gilas Pilipinas team bound for the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia vowed to make up for the whipping its senior counterpart suffered at the hands of South Korea on Wednesday night in the Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon.
From coach Jong Uichico to SEA Games first-timer Kobe Paras, just about everybody in the team felt down following the Filipinos’ 118-86 loss to the Koreans that eliminated them outright in the fight for the gold medal.
And so as the team embarks on a campaign for the gold in the Malaysian capital beginning on Sunday, the cadets vowed to win everything for their older brothers.
“Kailangan naming ibawi yung mga kuya namin. That’s our motivation,” Kiefer Ravena declared during the send-off rites at the Edsa Shangrila Hotel.
“Siyempre babawi kami para sa mga kuya namin,” added Bobby Ray Parks. “They lost last night (against Korea), but (we all know) they gave their best.”
The team is looking to do it by retaining the basketball gold in the regional meet. It gets its campaign going in Group A against Thailand on Sunday, followed by matches against Myanmar (August 22), and Malaysia (August 23).
Group B is composed of Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The top two teams from each group advance to the crossover semifinals, with the two survivors disputing the gold on the 26th.
Uichico ranks the Thais as the top rival of the Filipinos for the championship owing to the presence of naturalized player Tyler Lamb.
“We’ve already seen them here in the SEABA, with the exception of Tyler Lamb and a few additions also,” said the soft-spoken mentor. “Our basis for scouting is more on individual tendencies, but their team tendencies we know nothing.”
But the Filipinos are banking on their extra motivation to bring out the fire in the team.
“We all know natalo tayo (against Korea). Sayang pero kasama sa motivation namin yun. Gusto lang naming ipagtanggol ang mga kuya namin,” said Baser Amer.
“Kaya gusto namin, pagbalik namin masaya ang lahat.”