Gilas coach Chot Reyes is not leaving anything to chance with months of preparation and a formidable lineup led by national team staples like June Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, among others. Naturalized player Andray Blatche has also arrived just in time for the tournament set to kick off Friday.
The returning national team coach also pointed out the eight-point win in the 2015 SEA Games gold medal match against Indonesia as proof that we shouldn’t take our regional neighbors lightly as they have ramped up their preparations and also employed naturalized players of their own.
But looking back at the Philippines’ performance in the regional tournament, the stats give a resounding ‘no’ for an answer.
The Philippines is the most successful team in the tourney pitting the best basketball players in the Southeast Asian region, with seven titles in the past 11 tilts and have not tasted defeat in the said competition in 21 years since the Rommel Adducul-led squad lost in the 1996 finals to then host country Indonesia.
Since then, the Philippine team has won 30 straight games in dominating fashion, with a margin of victory of 43.74 points in the last seven tournaments we’ve won. Here’s the breakdown:
YEAR: AVERAGE MARGIN OF VICTORY
*Fiba suspended the Philippines from joining international competitions in 2005. Also, the Philippine team didn’t need to join the Seaba tournament in 2013 after directly qualifying for the Fiba Asia Championship that same year as host.
The latest in 2015 saw a squad led by Bobby Ray Parks Jr, Kiefer Ravena, Scottie Thompson and Jio Jalalon along with naturalized player Marcus Douthit blow by its opponents by an average of a tournament-record 68.4 points. The Wong Wei Long-led Singapore team was the only squad to be within a respectable distance after a 26-point loss in the final game of the tournament.
The last time any foe ended up with a deficit below 20 was 14 years ago, when host team Malaysia lost by 15 to the Pinoy cagers in the 2003 edition.
But stats tell one side of the story, and there are still plenty of unknowns ahead for Gilas.
The good thing about this Gilas team, though, is they’re not banking on past glory but instead have worked hard to prepare for the best squads in the region. It might end up as a cakewalk for the Philippines anew or there might be some few surprises, no one knows until the battles begin. But it’s reassuring to know Gilas is going all out to set and raise the bar some more.