By REYNALD MAGALLON
More roadblocks stand in Gilas Pilipinas’ road to redemption.
The Nationals are bracing not only for the tough competition but also the humid conditions inside the court when they open their campaign in the men’s 5-on-5 basketball event in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games against Malaysia on Tuesday, May 9.
Tip-off of the contest is at 2 p.m. (Manila time) with Gilas preparing to play through the hot temperature come game time inside the Elephant Hall 2 at the.Morodok Techno National Stadium in Phnom Penh.
While that’s certainly a concern as it could affect the performance of the players, Gilas head coach Chot Reyes chose not to dwell on the issues as it was something the team cannot anymore control.
“Lahat naman maaffect, I just don’t know why we are playing at 1 p.m. (Cambodia time), why not some other time. But again that’s the nature of the competition. We just have to make the best (out of it) and play the game,” said Reyes during the team’s practice at the venue on Monday, May 8.
Even during practice, Gilas encountered transportation issues that caused delays in their scheduled training session. Additionally, the team had to individually inflate the balls to meet the standard weight for men’s basketball, as they were initially provided with balls designed for the women’s events.
Gilas naturalized player Justin Brownlee echoed the same sentiments as Reyes, saying that they just have to deal with and keep their focus on the game instead.
“It’s no advantage because everybody has to deal with it. We just have to deal with it, make sure we rehydrate and take care of our bodies so I think everybody will be okay,” added Brownlee.
Although coming in as the heavy favorite not just in the opening game but also in its group, Gilas is not taking Malaysia lightly, especially with young gun and the recently-concluded AsiaBasket mythical team member Ting Chun Hong along with Ong Wei Yong and Heng Yee Tong leading the way for the team.
After Malaysia, Gilas will then face a formidable Cambodian squad that is bannered by three naturalized players on Thursday, May 11 before wrapping up the group stage assignments against Singapore on May 13.
“The competition is gonna be good. We got the work cut out for us but I know the guys on our team are ready for the challenge we’re looking forward to getting it done,” said team captain Chris Ross.