There’s no doubt that Gilas Pilipinas have a “plateful” of challenges on its hand.
For aside from preparing for the Asian Games, national coach Chot Reyes’ band of 12 are also dealing with several “external factors”, that could possibly keep their eyes off the goal if they allow themselves to be distracted.
These “external factors” include the possibility that other Asian countries will question naturalized center Marcus Douthit’s late addition to the Gilas roster to replace the ineligible Andray Blatche.
Then, there’s the injury bug that hit the national team, where guards Jayson Castro (left knee and Achilles heel), Marc Pingris (Achilles heel and sprained ankle) Paul Lee (heel) and Jared Dillinger (left calf) got hurt during the team’s recent campaign in the Fiba World Cup.
Add to that the fact that Gilas will be playing before an expected hostile environment. We all know that the Koreans are out to get some “payback” after bowing to the Filipinos during the semifinals of last year’s Fiba-Asia men’s championships in Manila.
Despite the seemingly overwhelming odds, Gilas has showed to the world during the Fiba World Cup that it can compete against the best despite being undersized.
Gilas in fact, lost to Croatia, Argentina and Puerto Rico by an average margin of less than three points.
This year, the Philippines is in a position to win the gold medal and end its 52-year title drought in Asian Games basketball.
Gilas may be facing “giants” in their mission to win the basketball gold, but here’s one “weapon” Filipinos need to have in Incheon, South Korea – focus.
Here’s what back-up big man June Mar Fajardo said: “Kailangan mental focus na kasi homecourt na nila (Koreans),” Fajardo said. “Kailangan mo talaga na focus ang mind mo, na di ka ma-distract sa crowd nila. Kapag na distract ka, baka masira laro mo.”