AS the Philippines guns for a spot in the men’s basketball final of the 30th Southeast Asian Games today, expect the Nationals to give everything they could offer on both ends.
“We’re gonna go out and show our wares out on Monday (today). We’re not gonna hold anything back, we’re gonna go after them,” said national coach Tim Cone.
Cone seldom say those kind of words, even in the Philippine Basketball Association loop. But in this Filipinos’ semifinal confrontation with Indonesia, Cone obviously wanted the Nationals not to be overconfident.
That’s how he respects the Indonesians, who are being handled by a familiar coach who sports enviable credentials.
“We respect them (Indonesians) so much, we know anything can happen against their country,” said Cone.
You see, the Indonesians have Rajko Toroman as their bench tactician and Cone saw the dramatic improvement of Indonesia under him.
“We all know who their coach is over there. We all know he’s been with the original Gilas team and he coached in the PBA,” said Cone. “We all know how disciplined his teams are, they show great discipline, usually very good shooting teams.”
The Filipinos topped Group A with a 3-0 sweep of the eliminations, beating their opponents by an average margin of 54 points. They capped their elimination campaign with a 69-point blowout win (136-67) against Myanmar last Saturday.
The Indonesians on the other hand finished second in Group B with 2-1 slate. Their average winning margin in their two victories against Malaysia and Cambodia was 19 points, but they lost by 22 points to Thailand.
Somehow, teams seem to play with great resolve during playoffs, hence the Filipinos are expected to give their best in the 8:15 p.m. cross-over semifinal confrontation with the Indonesians at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“We’ll be the favorite team but we’re used to that at this point so we’re gonna go out and get them,” said Cone.
“He’s a good friend of mine and it’s always difficult to play against, coach against a good friend. But he has something he has to do, we have something we have to do,” he added.
Thailand, which defeated its opponents by an average margin of 16 points, swept Group B, 3-0, and will play Vietnam (2-1) in the other half of the semifinals at 3:45 p.m.
The Philippines is gunning for a shot at 18th title in the biennial games.