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MVP defends Gilas coach

18JuneMar copy copy

Games Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
3 p.m. – Malaysia vs Myanmar
5 p.m. – Vietnam vs Singapore
7 p.m. – Philippines vs Indonesia

Former Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President Manny V. Pangilinan reiterated the stand of Gilas Pilipinas in sending its heavy artillery in the ongoing SEABA Championship, saying that it’s better to be safe than be sorry.

Gilas has been ruling the tournament with reckless abandon, winning by an average margin of 66 points in the first four games, including Tuesday’s night 108-53 mastery of Thailand at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The series of lopsided scores has prompted some to call the PBA-flavored squad’s participation in the tournament as “overkill.” However, the situation which sees SEABA champion earning the region’s lone berth in the FIBA Asia Cup in August prompted the SBP to do such move.

“Kasi pag natalo man tayo dito sa SEABA, napakalaking pinsala,” the long-time national team patron said after Tuesday’s match against Thailand.

“Pag natalo tayo, di tayo makakalaro sa FIBA Asia (Cup), which will imperil our chances of qualifying for the Olympics. The winner of SEABA will also be one of the 16 teams in the qualifying tournament for the World Cup in China in 2019. So much is stake e. Kaya we should really send the best team we could get,” he added.

Pangilinan watched as Gilas overcame a tight first quarter that saw Thailand trail by only four points, 18-14, to turn the contest into another lopsided win.

The PLDT boss was not worried at all, but added that the start should serve as a lesson.

“I wasn’t afraid of the team losing, pero ang dapat na lesson dun e nagiimprove ang Thailand,” Pangilinan said. “One quarter, medyo dikit. Four points lang yun. Siyempre malabo na tayo matalo because we’re the better team.

“But in succeeding teams, hindi mangyayari yun. They’ll be tougher, they’ll be bigger., they’ll be better. We have to be ready for that as well.”

Gilas was not only ready to beat Thailand, it also entered the floor with something to prove after the Filipinos heard of reports that the Thais’ sponsor have promised 10 million baht (R14 million) should they beat Gilas.

Japeth Aguilar, who triggered the second quarter pullaway with 15 of his 23 points, admitted that Gilas coach Chot Reyes made it a rallying cry during the pregame huddle.

“Sinabi talaga sa amin ni coach Chot sa amin na ‘Let’s make a point.’ Ayun, talagang naging motivation sa amin yun,” said the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel big man.

Gilas was expected to move a win shy of completing a six-game sweep of the tournament against Vietnam last night.
The Filipinos close their campaign tonight against Indonesia, which was expected to likewise go 5-0 in yesterday’s encounter with winless Myanmar.