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2021 SEA Games

Gilas 3×3 debacle proves SEAG 5-on-5 competition is serious, says Chot

Gilas Pilipinas opens its gold medal bid in the 31st Southeast Asian Games as it goes up against Thailand at the Thanh Tri Gymnasium in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The Nationals battle the Thais at 4 p.m. (5 p.m. Manila time) to open their bid for a 19th SEA Games gold medal in men’s basketball.

Head coach Chot Reyes, however, said Gilas will be facing improved competition from the region and that includes their first opponent in Thailand.

Reyes revealed that Thailand’s 3×3 team that captured the SEA Games gold last Saturday in Moses Morgan, Freddie Lish, Antonio Price, and Chanatip Jakwaran will also be seeing action in the 5-on-5.

Gilas 3×3, bannered by Brandon Rosser, Raymar Caduyac, Jorey Napoles, and Marvin Hayes, lost twice in the elimination round before falling to Thailand in the semis, 21-17.

“The kind of opposition that we have here is serious,” said Reyes. “They are a serious threat.

“We already saw what happened in the 3×3. Those are the guys. We know their level and that’s why it’s very important that we will be able to beat that challenge.”

Gilas also had last-minute changes to their roster with Kiefer Ravena being called-up after Robert Bolick and Dwight Ramos couldn’t make it here. Bolick had to attend to his ailing father in the United States while Ramos still has commitments with his ballclub Toyama.

Kevin Alas also begged off from Gilas to attend to his wife Selina, who was recently diagnosed with a rare cancer Gestational Trophoblastic Neoplasia.

Ravena is eyeing his sixth SEA Games gold medal, and he has a chance to do so with his brother Thirdy, making his debut in the biennial meet after his second season with San-En Neophoenix in Japan.

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Also in the squad are six-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, Matthew Wright, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Mo Tautuaa, Kib Montalbo, Isaac Go, Will Navarro, and Lebron Lopez.

Gilas Pilipinas Women also begins its quest to defend the gold when they clash against Indonesia at 10 a.m. (11 a.m. Manila time).

The women’s team eyes a second straight title after winning the historic first gold in basketball in 2019 in Manila.

Two new players recently recruited in the United States in Gabi Bade and Stefanie Berberabe will make their SEA Games debut. Bade, from Sacramento State, is the daughter of former PBA player Cris Bade, while Berberabe is a former Player of the Year at National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school Westmont.

“This time around, medyo malaki ang difference. Six veterans and six new ones, not to mention na meron tayong tatlong Fil-Ams. Siguro medyo maliit tayo ngayon pero we are faster,” said Aquino.

For the women’s side, Vietnam will be the toughest competition as they have four players from NCAA Division I programs.

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