Philippine basketball fans have something to look forward to as the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) recently revealed the 28-man pool that will represent the country in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia this May.
The Philippine men’s team is seeking to regain the basketball gold that it lost in the previous edition of the SEA Games to Indonesia.
Six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo and naturalized player Justin Brownlee are the headliners of the Philippine team.
Other big names in the pool are Fajardo’s San Miguel teammates CJ Perez, Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Ross, Brownlee’s fellow Kings Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, Jamie Malonzo, Christian Standhardinger, Stanley Pringle Jr, and Jeremiah Gray, TNT’s Roger Pogoy, Calvin Oftana, John Paul Erram, and Mikey Williams, the Meralco trio of Chris Newsome, Raymond Almazan, and Aaron Black, NLEX duo of Kevin Alas and Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, and Arvin Tolentino of NorthPort.
College players included in the pool are Mason Amos, Kevin Quiambao, Jerom Lastimosa, Deschon Winston, Benjamin Phillips III, Michael Phillips, and Ariel John Edu.
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes will lead the squad as they aim to bring home the coveted SEA Games gold medal.
Only Fajardo and Pogoy were part of the team that lost the battle for gold against Indonesia, ending the country’s 52-game winning streak in the biennial meet since 1997.
SBP President Al Panlilio expressed the organization’s commitment to reclaiming their lost glory, saying, “What we’ve gone through after that fateful day in Hanoi, both the wins and the losses in the various tournaments that followed, are in effect, geared also toward bringing the SEA Games gold medal back to our shores.”
For some players like Jeremiah Gray, being included in the pool was a pleasant surprise. Gray said he learned about it from his uncle, who sent him a news item about it.
The Ginebra rookie admitted he had no hint that he was going to be part of the Gilas pool, and even his head coach Tim Cone, who is also an assistant coach of Gilas Pilipinas, didn’t inform him about it.
Gray is one of seven Ginebra players who made it to the 28-man pool for the SEA Games.
He expressed his excitement to be under consideration and hopes to make it to the team to help reclaim the gold medal that they lost in Hanoi last year.
He said, “It’s very special. It’s cool that we are seven in there with Justin playing for us. We will try to get that gold back. That’s a good feeling, and it’s very special.”
With the Philippine team boasting a strong lineup of talented players, fans are looking forward to seeing them compete in Cambodia and potentially bring home the gold medal.
As SBP President Panlilio said, “And once Gilas assembles and starts practice for the competition in Cambodia, I expect nothing else but 100 percent effort and serious resolve in sending the most competitive national team possible to do the job of winning back the gold. That is our commitment to our basketball-loving countrymen.”