The Gilas Cadets squad that will represent the Philippines in the 2016 SEABA Stankovic Cup flew to Bangkok, Thailand Friday afternoon.
The 12-man squad composed of two professionals, six semi-professionals, three collegiate stars, and a high school standout only had three weeks of preparation for the tournament.
“I think that this is a young team,” the team’s head coach Nash Racela, who is flying out to the tournament Saturday with Kevin Ferrer, said. “The very definition that I have for them is that they are willing to sacrifice for flag and country.”
The collegiate champion coach added that the final roster was only made a month prior to the tournament. “Imagine, they have only been informed about the tournament in less than a month tapos nandiyan na sila. They trained right away, volunteered, and practiced everyday,” he added.
“Even with just three weeks of preparation that we have, nandiyan naman sila willing to sacrifice.”
In comparison, the hosts Thailand had three months to prepare for the tournament and even trained in America just for this tournament. Moreover, the Thai’s are mainly composed of professional basketball players playing in the ASEAN Basketball League.
“I think Thailand is going to be tough being the hosts. They have veteran players and they have a new coach over there,” Racela shared. “From what I’ve heard, they have been training for three months and part of their training was in America. Talagang pinaghandaan nila ito.”
“It’s the same team that almost beat us last year during the SEA Games and SEABA when Coach Tab (Baldwin) was handling the team,” he then reflected.
“We had three months of preparation then (for the SEA Games).”
Racela remains wary of the threat the hosts will bring. Even with the circumstances given to the team, he is still proud of the 12 men that have made the ultimate sacrifice for flag and country.
“Regardless of the name, regardless of the age, as long as they are available. They made the sacrifice for flag and country,” he stressed.
The Sinag 12 will open their Stankovic Cup campaign against Malaysia on Sunday, May 22 at 5:30pm. The team will then face Singapore on Tuesday, May 24 at 4:00pm, Indonesia on Wednesday at 4:00pm, and hosts Thailand on Thursday, May 26 at 6:30pm. The Finals will be played on Friday at a yet to be determined time.
The top two placers for the tournament will advance to the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge set to be played in Iran on September.
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