Gilas braces for tough semis in SEAG

Gilas Pilipinas’ Dwight Ramos FIBA PHOTO

Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes is bracing for the worst once the Filipinos advance to the crossover phase of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games men's basketball set to start on May 9 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The national team is bracketed at Group A with Malaysia, Singapore and the host nation, which can be considered a “lighter assignment” compared to Group B, where defending champion Indonesia is bunched with title contender Thailand, 2019 SEA Games bronze medalist Vietnam, and Laos.

Reyes said the “luck of the draw” only means facing a strong opponent in the later round.

“That means we will cross over versus a heavier opponent,” Reyes told The Manila Times.

The veteran Gilas mentor said he expects Indonesia and Thailand to field in their respective naturalized players in their bid to reign supreme in the region.

Marques Bolden, Indonesia's naturalized player, led Timnas in their gold medal finish in last year's edition in Hanoi by stunning the Philippines, 81-85 in the single-round tournament en route to a six-game sweep.

Bolden's participation though is unclear due to an injury he sustained a few months back. But Indonesia is looking at fielding in former PBA import Lester Prosper and possibly, Anthony Beane, the former South Illinois guard, who joined the team's training camp in Australia recently.

Cambodia SEA Games Federation has changed the basketball format this year, doing away with the single-round arrangement where the team with the best record automatically wins the gold. Instead, the host country split the eight-team field to two groups with the top two squads from each bracket advancing to the crossover semis. Winners from the semis then, clash for the gold medal.

Gilas is scheduled to hold a weeklong closed-door training at Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna beginning Sunday.

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