LAST chance to put its act together.
Such is the kind of thinking coach Jong Uichico wants from his Sinag Pilipinas squad going to its match against Myanmar Thursday in the 27th SEA Games basketball competitions at the Zayar Thiri Indoor Stadium A.
“We must be consistent with our game, especially our defense, and tomorrow should be another gauge on how far we’ve come as a team,” said Uichico on the eve of the match from which the Filipinos hope to emerge with a third straight win in as many outings.
That should serve Sinag in good stead since its biggest test for a 16th title in the biennial meet comes the following day, against perennial challenger Thailand.
“That’s why we can’t stress enough to our players the importance of playing together, playing within our system,” said Uichico. “The problem is, we don’t have the luxury of time dahil parating na ang malalakas na kalaban.”
The Filipinos next take on Indonesia Saturday before winding up their campaign against Malaysia Sunday.
That doesn’t mean Uichico wants his charges looking beyond Myanmar.
Sinag is coming off a 107-55 thrashing of Cambodia last Tuesday while the hosts have so far been winless after two games and are still smarting from a 40-83 drubbing from Indonesia last Monday.
Taking Myanmar lightly is one thing Uichico doesn’t want his charges thinking, and more so the idea to treat the entire seven-team, single round tournament as a walk in the park.
“If we think that way then we become vulnerable and may fall into traps. Hindi pwede iyon. We must treat each of our opponents with utmost respect while playing accordingly,” said Uichico.
Sinag opened its campaign with an 88-75 conquest of Singapore. But that seemingly easy win exposed the team’s weaknesses and almost made Uichico cringe as the Singaporeans led early and hung tough for majority of the game.
“Ang inisip nila kayang-kaya, ang gusto iskoran ng iskoran, nakakalimutan na ang depensa,” said Uichico, noting some of the same lapses were committed by his charges in the Cambodia game.
“We understand that our players come from different teams, each with a different mind-set, na hardly have had time playing together. Pero we gave them a system to follow and kapag nasunod iyon, our chances will be better,” said Uichico.
“Basta it’s a matter of playing the same way, whoever the opponent is.”