SORRY, you won’t be seeing your beloved favorite basketball players during the glittering opening rites of the 30th Southeast Asian Games tomorrow at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Instead of occupying a place of prominence in the Philippine contingent parading during the marchpast of nations, Gilas Pilipinas will be busy practicing in preparation for its opening assignment against Singapore next week.
National team head coach Tim Cone said yesterday that the squad wants to practice tomorrow instead of going to the Philippine Arena to join the opening ceremonies which kick off at 7 in the evening.
“I understand we will not be in the opening. We’re not gonna be in the opening,” Cone told Camille Narredo of ABS-CBN Sports, adding he was the one who requested that the Gilas players be excused from the event.
“All the athletes in the games have had a year or more to prepare for this tournament, for the SEA Games, and we basically have a week,” he said. “And we cannot afford to have less time off our practice.”
For Cone, the time it would take for them to travel to Bocaue, Bulacan and participate in the opening rites will be better spent in training.
“We made a request not to join the opening so we could do a two-a-day practice. I believe it’s been granted,” Cone said.
While the team will miss the opening ceremonies, it is already planning to show its support to fellow Filipino athletes in other ways. According to Cone, the team will try to watch some games on Dec. 5 and 8, when Gilas has no games scheduled.
“We wanna be part of the games. We don’t wanna be in our own tournament. We wanna be part of the games,” said Cone.
The Filipinos open their title-retention drive on Dec. 4 against the Singaporeans at the Mall of Asia Arena, heavily-favored to win their first game with a lot to spare.