THE Philippine men’s basketball team get its 30th Southeast Asian Games campaign rolling today, taking on Singapore on opening day of the 5-on-5 hoops competition at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Bannered by an all-Philippine Basketball Association squad coached by many-time champion Tim Cone, Gilas Pilipinas is out to keep the country’s stranglehold of the tournament in the biennial regional sporting meet, where it has won the gold in 17 of the 19 times basketball has been staged.
Making up Team Philippines in men’s basketball are five-time PBA most valuable player June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross of the San Miguel Beermen, Troy Rosario of TNT KaTropa, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Stanley Pringle and Greg Slaughter of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, Kiefer Ravena of the NLEX Road Warriors, Vic Manuel of the Alaska Aces, Christian Standhardinger of Northport Batang Pier and Matthew Wright of the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters.
The Philippines is in Group A along with Singapore, Myanmar and Vietnam.
It takes on Singapore first today at 8:15 p.m., followed by Vietnam on Dec. 6 and Myanmar on Dec. 7.
In the lead-up to the Games, Mr. Cone said they are looking to compete as a team with everybody asked to contribute the best way they can.
“We want to share the ball and the responsibility. We want to play as a team to achieve our goal of winning the gold,” said Mr. Cone.
Making up Group B of the competition, meanwhile, are 2017 silver medallist Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand.
Format calls for the top two teams in each grouping after the group play advancing to the knockout semifinals.
Kicking off its campaign, meanwhile, on Dec. 5 is the Pat Aquino-coached women’s squad.
Making up the core of the team are Jack Animam, Clare Castro, Janine Pontejos and Afril Bernardino, who handed the country a gold in women’s 3×3 competition on Monday.
The Philippine women’s team is competing in a four-team field which also includes reigning gold medallist Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
It plays Indonesia first today at 6 p.m., followed by Malaysia on Dec. 8 and Thailand on Dec. 10.
The team with the most win after the one-round tournament wins the gold. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo