(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
3 p.m. – Myanmar vs Indonesia
5 p.m. – Singapore vs Thailand
7 p.m. – Vietnam vs Philippines
The bid of Gilas Pilipinas to rule the SEABA Championship got a bit interesting after reports that Indonesia got a go-signal to have two of its key players suit up for the final two days while Thailand is willing to dole out huge incentives depending on its outcome with the Filipino cagers last night.
Naturalized player Jamarr Johnson and Indonesian-American Arki Wisnu are expected to play for Indonesia’s last two games, including tomorrow’s match with Gilas, after they were forced to sit out the past four because of eligibility issues.
The Indonesian national team’s social media account posted a picture of both Johnson and Wisnu during a practice session at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City, preparing for today’s match against Myanmar.
Johnson and Wisnu began the tournament on the sidelines, citing the need for a clearance from world governing body FIBA.
Standing at 6-foot-5, Johnson plays for the CLS Knights Surabaya of the Indonesian Basketball League, winning Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors during the club’s 2016 title campaign.
Wisnu, meanwhile, plays for Satria Muda Pertamina and a member of the 2012 ASEAN Basketball League champion Indonesia Warriors. Interestingly, the New York-born guard was eligible for Indonesia during its silver medal run in the 2015 Singapore Southeast Asian Games.
Despite their absences, Indonesia won its first four games, including a thrilling 60-59 victory over Thailand last Sunday – thanks to a game-winner by 38-year-old guard Mario Wuysang.
Speaking of Thailand, it is expected to play like an inspired bunch against Gilas in their game being played at presstime at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Cherry Reyes, the wife of Gilas coach Chot Reyes, tweeted that she heard of plans by Thailand’s benefactor, the Mono group, to give out 10 million baht or about P14 million should the team pulled off a stunning victory over the PBA-flavored squad.
But the team could also receive cash rewards even in defeat. The Thai players, Reyes added in her tweet, stands to get 9 million baht (R13 million) if they lose by five points or less, or 8 million baht (P10 million) if the losing margin is 10 points or less.
Sources confirmed they had heard of the planned rewards, with another adding that such plan should come as no surprise, given that Mono, which owns a television station in Bangkok, having deep pockets.
Gilas may end up welcoming such developments, given its dire need of playing competitive matches following wins over Myanmar, Singapore and Malaysia by an average margin of 69.7 points per game.
The SEABA champion gets to qualify in both the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon this August and the home-and-away qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, prompting Gilas to field its top-level squad.