When you are the champion, everybody is out to get you. After all, you hold the most coveted title in a league and everyone wants to take it away from you. This is how Gilas Pilipinas must feel right now as all eyes are on Gilas Pilipinas, defending champions at this year’s South East Asia Basketball Association (SEABA). SEABA will be held from May 12 to 18, 2017 at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Only the champion will advance to the qualifying tournament for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, which will be held in Lebanon this August.
Vincent ‘Chot’ Reyes returns to coach the Gilas team with a brand-new powerhouse roster composed of Japeth Aguilar, Terrence Romeo, June Mar Fajardo, Calvin Abueva, Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, Matthew Wright, Andray Blatche, Raymond Almazan, Roger Pogoy, Jio Jalalon, and Allein Maliksi. With a lineup like this, the home crowd cannot wait to watch Gilas play.
The roster, a mix of veterans and young blood, has been described as deadly. Perhaps even overkill, but such caution is necessary. “We’ve sent college players in the past with barely any time to prepare and we almost suffered losses. That’s not gonna happen anymore. We need to make sure that the Southeast Asian region is well aware of just how strong the Philippines is in basketball. We cannot allow them to think that they have a shot at beating us because that’s the best way to stay ahead of them,” said Carlo Pamintuan of Sports5.
The formidable Gilas team will be going up against Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The team is expected to beat its first opponent, the Myanmar team, but will be going up against stronger teams from Singapore and Malaysia next. Though Gilas has killer players, it may lack in preparation, especially with Andray Blatche’s lack of familiarity with the new players. Coach Chot has said the team would not be at 100 percent preparation for May 12. “But having said that, we’re not going to use it as an excuse. We’re still going to find ways to win because there’s a job put on our shoulders,” said the head coach, who is the only 5-time PBA Coach of the Year, and led the Philippines to its first FIBA World Cup win in 40 years.
Batang Gilas, composed of the Philippine’s top young players, will defend their title in the SEABA Under-16 Championship. The country’s best junior ballers will be going up against Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. As with the senior counterparts, Batang Gilas is expected to come out on top, and fans are looking forward to seeing young giants Kai Sotto and Geo Chiu debut on the big stage.
Catch the action live and exclusive on TV5. All Gilas games will be shown at 7pm, with full live stream coverage on www.sports5.ph. SEABA will also feature the first multi-cam with 360-degree coverage locally, in partnership with Team V, powered by Sports5. View it on http://360.smart.com.ph/seaba.
Tickets for the 12th SEABA Championship are available on TicketNet.