SINGAPORE — Laughs were all around in the team bus following light practice of the Philippine men’s basketball squad on Monday morning, with one staff dishing out one joke after another to the delight of the players.
But assistant coach Nash Racela warned that it will be serious business for the Gilas cadets when they begin their campaign in the 28th Southeast Asian Games on Wednesday against Indonesia at the OCBC Arena.
Racela noted Indonesia has beefed up its team with players who have suited up in the Asean Basketball League (ABL), making it far stronger than the team that finished fourth in the last Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) championship.
Among the players of Indonesia here are former ABL MVP Mario Wuysang and Christian Sitepu.
“Indonesia will be sending to the SEA Games a very different team to the Seaba. It’s not going to be a walk in the park,” said Racela following the team’s practice at the Hougang Sports Hall.
“When we saw them in the hotel lobby, these are veteran players in their late 20s and early 30s and most of them played in the ABL," said Racela, who presides over the team's practices with head coach Tab Baldwin still in Manila.
"You can’t really base the teams they have in the Seaba and two years ago because you know how the ABL helped them improve. These are all mostly professional players,” he added.
The Philippines, however, will get a chance to scout the new-look Indonesia team when it sees action in the men’s basketball opener on Tuesday at the OCBC Arena against Malaysia.