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Smart Gilas can go all the way, says Reyes

GUANGZHOU — Losing is not an option when the Smart Gilas national team takes on Kuwait in a knockout match Saturday at the start of the basketball competition in the 16th Asian Games.

Formed in early 2009, the Nationals risk coming home in a hail of tomatoes if they lose to the Kuwaitis whose participation had been subject of speculations at home.

Early reports said Kuwait had withdrawn, but the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) was later assured by organizers that the game will push through.

Despite the assurance, SBP executive-director Noli Eala said Kuwait was absent during the team manager’s meeting.

Unless the players forget to bring their jerseys, Smart Gilas should have no problem disposing of Kuwait which is competing under the banner of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Based on the information submitted, the Kuwaitis have an average height of 5-11, small even by PBA standards.

The Filipinos played two tune-up matches since their arrival. They lost their first match against the Guangdong Tigers, 87-75, Wednesday and won against the Dongguan Leopards, 79-65, Thursday.

“I believe this team will go all the way and win a medal,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes who is here to assist Serbian head coach Rajko Toroman.

Reyes said it is unfair to compare the team that he handled during the 2007 FIBA-Asia and the current squad.

“They’re entirely different. Mine was a running team while Rajko’s more disciplined, structured,” said Reyes. “One thing going for Gilas is that it is better prepared.”

Reyes also noted that competition was tougher in FIBA-Asia because it serves as qualifying event for the Olympics.

“Many top players are missing because some teams don’t take the Asiad too seriously,” he said.

After beating the Leopards, the Nationals proceeded to the Athletes Village, their home for the next two weeks – or less.

On Friday, the Nationals held practice at a gym not provided by Games organizers.

The team’s official practice was set Saturday morning, but the coaching staff opted to lease the place for last-minute workout.

After Kuwait, the Nationals will have to contend with Asian champion Iran, Qatar, Chinese-Taipei, Japan and the winner between Afghanistan and India in a round robin series.

This post first appeared on Online Filipino Hub, please read the originial post: here

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Smart Gilas can go all the way, says Reyes


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