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Old foes for Gilas

The names of Jamarr Johnson, Mario Wuysang, Wong Wei Long, Nakorn Jaisanuk and Mak Long Seng are expected to be among the players to watch among rival nations as the SEABA Championship reels off today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Johnson suits up as a naturalized player that will reinforce Wuysang and Indonesia in the six-day tournament, Wei Long leads Singapore, Jaisanuk for Thailand and Mak for Malaysia as they seek to hurdle the insurmountable odd of beating the PBA-led Gilas Pilipinas squad.

Those names should certainly ring a bell for June Mar Fajardo, RR Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Allein Maliksi, Matthew Wright and Jio Jalalon, who played either of them in the ASEAN Basketball League or in SEABA competitions.

Wuysang, 38, is considered as one of Indonesia’s best player, and was part of the country’s 2012 ABL title-winning team when the Warriors stunned Fajardo and the San Miguel Beermen in the deciding third game of the finals at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Maliksi also had a chance to play against Wuysang during his short ABL stint with the Philippine Patriots in the 2010-11 season.

Wuysang will have significant help from Johnson, who was naturalized after spending the last three seasons for the CLS Knights Surabaya of the Indonesian Basketball League. Also part of the Indonesian squad are former ABL players Dodo Sitepu and Arki Wisnu.

Wei Long is considered as the face of Singaporean basketball, having led the Slingers to the last two ABL finals, the first losing to Wright and the Westports Malaysia Dragons in 2016. He was also part of the Singapore national team that won a bronze in the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games.

Pogoy, Rosario and Jalalon likely have not forgotten Jainsanuk, Chitchai Ananti, Kannut Samerjai and rugged forward Chanachon Klahan. They were part of the Gilas Cadets team that nearly lost to Thailand in last year’s elimination round of the SEABA Cup in Bangkok before taking home the gold.

Mak, on the other hand, has had a chance of experiencing a dose of Philippine basketball as part of the Blustar team in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup. Malaysia will be fielding a young lineup in the SEABA, with notable Blustar players Chee Huei Liaw and Ong Wei Yong.

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