The Philippines has traditionally dominated basketball competition in the Southeast Asian Games after winning 16 of the past 18 basketball events, but this year will count as one of the toughest given how much the competition has improved. Every opponent is expected to be sending their best teams to Malaysia for the upcoming games.

On the other hand, the Philippines will be sending their “cadet” team as usual, opting to ship their top guns to the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon. This year’s SEA Games calendar clashes with the tail end of the FIBA tournament where that Philippines team is anticipating the possibility of a deep run.

While this iteration of the Philippine national team is not nearly as deadly as the team that dominated the most recent SEABA Championships, they should still be a force to be reckoned with as they try to defend their crown in Kuala Lumpur.

   2017 SEA GAMES ROSTER

Head Coach, Vincent ‘Chot’ Reyes

Guard, Ray Parks (193 cm)

Guard, Kiefer Ravena (183 cm)

Forward, Raymar Jose (193 cm)

Guard, Almond Vosotros (178 cm)

Guard/Forward, Von Pessumal (188 cm)

Forward, Kevin Ferrer (196 cm)

Forward, Carl Bryan Cruz (193 cm)

Guard, Mike Tolomia (183 cm)

Guard, Baser Amer (183 cm)

Forward, Troy Rosario (201 cm)

Forward, Christian Standhardinger (201 cm)

Guard/Forward, Kobe Paras (198 cm)

   PROJECTED STARTERS

1. Kiefer Ravena (PG) – 183 cm

Alab Pilipinas (ABL)

PHOTO CREDIT: ASEAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE

Although he most recently only played two playoff games for Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League, constituting the only pro basketball experience on his resume thus far, Ravena will already be playing in a record fourth straight SEA Games. Ever since winning his first gold medal in Jakarta back in 2011, he has won every single time he was enlisted and is now on a mission to take home his fourth.

 

2. Ray Parks (SG) – 193 cm

Alab Pilipinas (ABL)

PHOTO CREDIT: ASEAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE

The reigning ASEAN Basketball League local MVP also has his fair share of SEA Games success, winning himself two gold medals with Ravena, but had to sit out the most recent tournament due to his stint with the Texas Legends in the NBA Developmental League. Parks has since returned renewed confidence to go along with additional skills which helped him tear up the ABL before an injury sidelined him later in the season.

 

3. Kobe Paras (SF) – 198 cm

Cal State Northridge (NCAA)

PHOTO CREDIT: FIBA BASKETBALL

Even though we have hardly seen him play much as of late, one of the most popular guys on the team is Kobe Paras. While it is uncertain if that is due to his crazy athleticism from the genes that comes from his lineage, or the boyish good looks that make the girls swoon, the 19-year old redshirt Cal State Northridge Matador will definitely be one of Gilas’ most talked about players in this tournament.

 

4. Raymar Jose (PF) – 193 cm

Kaohsiung Truth (ABL)

PHOTO CREDIT: ASEAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE

Also one of the guys with considerable experience playing against Southeast Asian opponents, the forward who last suited up as a heritage import for the Kaohsiung Truth in the 2017 ABL season will now bring his inside presence to help beef up the Gilas front court. Jose has improved tremendously as of late, and will be counted on as one of the team’s few legitimate big men.

 

5. Troy Rosario (C) – 193 cm

TNT Katropa (PBA)

PHOTO CREDIT: MICHAEL GATPANDAN

Whether or not Filipino-German center Christian Standhardinger will be immediately slotted into the starting line-up fresh off his stint with the FIBA Asia Cup team, Rosario will be ready and able to provide fresh legs and valuable size in the center position for Gilas. He is also one of the few guys on the squad that participated and won the gold in the recent 2017 SEABA Championships in Manila.

   2017 SEA GAMES SCHEDULE

21:30 Sunday, August 20 vs Thailand @ MABA Stadium

18:00 Tuesday, August 22 vs Myanmar @ MABA Stadium

18:00 Wednesday, August 23 vs Malaysia @ MABA Stadium

   NOTABLE MATCHUPS

Sunday, August 20th vs Thailand

PHOTO CREDIT: MICHAEL GATPANDAN

Touted as one of the few teams that will give Gilas Pilipinas a serious challenge, the Thais will only be returning five players from their SEABA team, but will also be reinforced with the high-scoring athletic wing Tyler Lamb. The ASEAN Basketball League Heritage MVP should be aided with SEABA returnee, Chitchai Ananti, who was one of the top scorers in the 2017 SEABA Championships.

Some of the Thai mainstays who were part of the squad that gave the Gilas cadets a scare in 2015 will also be back: Nattakarn Muangboon, Ratdech Kruatiwa, Darongphan Apiromvilaichai, Kannut Samerjai, Teerawat Jantajon, and Sukhdave Ghogar.

Wednesday, August 23rd vs Malaysia

PHOTO CREDIT: MICHAEL GATPANDAN

Three words: Home court advantage. The Malaysians will have a lot more than their home court fans backing up their campaign during the tournament; they will also bank on the familiarity of the MABA arena’s rim and floors where most of their major tournaments are held. Not to mention that this is also the real home of the Malaysia Dragons team that won the ASEAN Basketball League last year.

Gilas will have to pay extra attention in guarding notable Dragons Wong Yi Hou, Ivan Yeo, Teo Kok Hou, Ting Chun Hong, along with their US-based high school player Perry Lim who will be making his debut on the national team.

   TOURNAMENT PROJECTION

This iteration of the Philippine national team has enough talent and experience to propel them deep into the tournament, perhaps through to the final game. While it remains to be seen if any of the upset-minded teams like Thailand and Indonesia will be able to pull off the improbable, Gilas is very wary and appears to have prepared sufficiently to help them take home another gold.