AFTER A very satisfactory performance in the recent 39th Jones Cup in Taiwan, the Philippines now shoots for better results in the coming FIBA-Asia Cup in Lebanon and 29th Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia. Since both tournaments almost overlap in schedule, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) had no choice but to assemble two equally competent teams.
Coach Chot Reyes will lead the team to Lebanon while his deputy Coach Joseph Uichico will handle the unit to Malaysia. Forwards Christian Standhardinger and Carl Bryan Cruz have been given the special task of being part of both teams and will make the trip halfway around the world between tournaments.
Completing the FIBA-Asia Cup team are Calvin Abueva, Raymond Almazan, Jayson Castro, Junemar Fajardo, Jiovani Jalalon, Gabe Norwood, Roger Pogoy, Terrence Romeo and Matthew Wright with Ed Daquioag as alternate. Tasked to defend the country’s SEA Games Gold Medal are Kiefer Ravena, Ray Parks, Kobe Paras, Almond Vosotros, Mike Tolomia, Kevin Ferrer, Raymar Jose, Fonzo Gotladera and Von Pessumal.
For the FIBA-Asia Cup that will tip off on August 8, Coach Reyes is not at the moment concerned about their scheduled elimination round games against China, Qatar and Iraq which immediately caused pundits to brand Group B as the Group of Death. “We have to get the team together first and prepare before we think about who we will play in Lebanon,” said Coach Reyes as they try to synchronize all the players’ availability.
Based on the FIBA-Asia Cup format, Coach Reyes declared that they have no choice but to beat China and top their group. “We want to avoid going through a playoff to enter the quarterfinals and if that happens, we will end up playing either Australia or New Zealand in the quarterfinals,” he said.
Recently, Chooks To Go feted the members of the two national teams to a send off luncheon wherein the company reiterated its continuing support for the program. Bounty Fresh Agro Ventures Chairman Ronald Mascarinas observed that the team’s losses in Taiwan came courtesy of two non-Asian teams from Canada and Lithuania while barely losing to South Korea in a thriller, a sign that we are in the right direction in retaining basketball supremacy in Asia.
For his all-around play that exemplified the ideals and values of Chooks To Go in the Jones Cup, Mascarinas in consultation with the coaching staff named Cruz as the first recipient of the Chooks To Go Sportsmanship Award. He received a symbolic check for PHP 100,000.00 as his prize.
Meanwhile, all eyes will be on Coach Uichico and his crew as they open their SEA Games campaign against dangerous Thailand on August 20 which happens to be the same date as the FIBA-Asia Cup championship game. The SEA Games has been the Filipinos’ private playground for the longest time but the Thais, Indonesia and host Malaysia hope to spring a few surprises.
All the players were unanimous in declaring that they learned a lot from their Jones Cup experience. The challenge now is to translate these lessons into victories.