Armed and ready
By: Jonathan Perez (Business Mirror)

THE men’s and women’s national basketball teams are armed and ready for the 27th Myanmar Southeast Asian (Sea) Games which opens on December 8 at the Zayar Thiri Indoor Stadium in Naypyidaw.

The men’s team will have Singapore as its first opponent at 2 p.m. (3:30 p.m. in Manila) while the women’s squad will take on Malaysia at 10 a.m.

While the men’s team is the gold medal favorite, Assistant Coach Josh Reyes said they remain wary about turning complacent, reason why University of the East point guard Roi Sumang was included in the squad.

“Roi will help a lot in breaking down the defense of our opponents. Remember we lost RR [Garcia] to the [Philippine Basketball Association Rookie] Draft. His [Sumang] dribble-drive penetration and ability to read plays will be our advantage against the taller teams,” Reyes said during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at Shakey’s Malate.

Despite a guard-heavy roster, Reyes believes the coaching staff, led by Head Coach Jong Uichico, has assembled the best unit that will try to retain the gold.

“These players don’t mind playing limited minutes as long as they are playing for flag and country. They are the best talent available since not a lot of big guys are available. These players fit in the system of Coach Jong,” Reyes added.

Ong, meanwhile, said the Perlas Pilipinas have already put their dismal campaign in the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) Asia Championship for Women last month in Thailand aside.

“Medyo nawala ang focus at emotionally drained sila after ng Fiba Asia. We played bad in our last two games where we missed 15 free throws against Indonesia and lost by four points against Malaysia,” Ong said.

“Physically we are ready but I’m worried on their mental aspect. We are undersized but we hope to overcome that with our quickness and speed,” Ong added.

Ong also tapped Camille Sambile and Angeli Gloriani to replace center Lalaine Flormata, who will be missing the biennial games after suffering a stress fracture on her right shin.

Also appearing in the forum presented by Shakey’s and the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp. were men’s team captain Kevin Alas, women’s co-team captains Joana Grajales and Merenciana Arayi, women’s Team Manager Cynthia Tiu, Matt Granuelas and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Executive Director Bernie Atienza.