Gilas begins the hunt for the SEA Games gold that matters most

Gilas Pilipinas in training for the 31st SEA Games. SEA PLAY POOL

HANOI—Gilas Pilipinas opens up about his quest for the gold medal that matters most to him as the National Five take on dangerous Thailand in men’s basketball competition at the 31st Southeast Asian Games .

A team armed to the teeth takes the floor of the Thanh Tri Gymnasium at 4 p.m. (5 p.m. in Manila) against an enemy who, according to coach Chot Reyes, has improved by leaps and bounds and certainly cannot be taken down. lightly.

“The kind of opposition we have is serious,” said Reyes, who has coached many Gilas teams but has never won an SEA Games gold medal. “They pose a serious threat. We saw what happened in the 3X3. These guys are guys. We know their level [of play] and that is why it is very important that we can meet this challenge.

No country other than Malaysia has beaten the Philippines in the biennial meeting, and like the others, Thailand have never come close to doing so. The Malays achieved the feat twice, in 1979 and then 10 years later.

Moses Morgan, Frederick Lish, Antonio Price Soonthornchote and Chanatip Jakrawan, the team that won the 3X3 title on Saturday, will banner the Thais’ regular cage team.

And while no surprises are expected in the men’s full-court division, the women’s team will be hoping to retain the crown they first won at the 2019 Games on home soil.

Women do it too

The Gilas Pilipinas Women take on Indonesia at 10 a.m. (11 a.m. Manila time) with a roster of six newcomers. It includes Gabi Bade and Stefanie Berberabe who are both based in the United States.

Reyes has a PBA all-star team at his disposal. Led by six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, gunslingers Matthew Wright and RR Pogoy, the Filipinos are, on paper, unbeatable here.

But Reyes wants to lower expectations as the pressure could play a huge role.

“These (SEA Games) provide a different kind of pressure because you know we can’t take defeat in the sport that we love the most,” Reyes said in a previous interview. “It will by no means be easy.”

Filipinos aren’t taking any chances using the services of Mo Tautuaa as a naturalized player here.

Troy Rosario, a regular for Filipino teams for the past three years, Kib Montalbo, Isaac Go, Will Navarro, LeBron Lopez and brothers Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena round out Gilas’ roster.

Reyes is also using this event to see, more or less, his players’ potential to represent the country in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup in just over a year.

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