UAAP heroes, foes play together for gold in Myanmar SEA Games

They may have been bitter foes on the hardcourt and friends outside, but UAAP heroes–two-time MVP Bobby Ray Parks Jr. of the NU Bulldogs, Kevin Ferrer of the UST Tigers, Kiefer Ravena of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Roi Sumang of the UE Warriors, Rey Mark Belo of the FEU Tamaraws and Jericho Cruz of the Adamson Falcons–play together now for pride, glory and gold in the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.

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Conspicuously missing in the roster is a player from Season 76 Champion De La Salle University. Green Archers hotshot Arnold Van Opstal is supposed to be with the Sinag Pilipinas team, but begged off because it’s finals time in his school. He said he already missed so much during the UAAP games and can’t afford to miss on final exams.

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The campaign starts December 9 (Monday) 12:30 p.m. Manila time against Singapore which will be telecast on Studio 23 at 7 p.m.

Gilas Pilipinas mainstays naturalized Marcus Douthit and Matt Ganuelas Rosser serve as pillars for the Philippine team.

Other players are Prince Caperal of Arellano University and Gilas cadets Ronald Pascual, Jake Pascual, Garvo Lanete and Kevin Alas as team captain. On reserve is Richard Smith.

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Head coach is Jong Uichico, assisted by Nash Racela, Josh Reyes and Allan Gregorio.

SEA Games 2013 Philippine Basketball Team Schedule (played at Zayar Thiri Indoor Stadium, Naypyidaw, Myanmar):

December 9, 2pm – Philippines vs Singapore (3:30pm Manila Time); December 10, 12nn – Philippines vs Cambodia (1:30pm Manila Time); December 12, 4pm – Philippines vs Myanmar (5:30pm Manila Time); December 13, 2pm – Philippines vs Thailand (3:30pm Manila Time); December 14, 10am – Philippines vs Indonesia (11:30am Manila Time); December 15, 4pm – Philippines vs Malaysia (5:30pm Manila Time)

It’s a single-round robin and the team with the best record wins the gold. It’s almost certain that ASEAN basketball powerhouse Philippines will clinch the championship.

“We’re expecting no less than a gold medal since we’ve been dominating the SEA Games ever since,” team captain Kevin Alas said during the sendoff.

Considered as main opponents are Thailand, Indonesia, and last-minute entry Singapore, bannered by big man Russel Low, a veteran of the Asian Youth Games in 2010.

Not only is the squad playing for national pride but they are also dedicating their games to the victims of typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) which devastated Central Visayas a month ago.

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“My heart goes out to all the families in Tacloban (City). I’m also donating money to Tacloban. Every point I score and every rebound I get, I donate P500. You better hope I play good so I can donate as much money as possible,” said Douthit, who towers everyone else at 6’11”.

Meanwhile, the Perlas national women’s basketball team kicks off its campaign against Malaysia also on December 9, followed by Thailand on December 10, after which they will have a four-day rest then play against Indonesia on December 15 and cap their campaign versus host Myanmar on December 16.

Perlas coach Haydee Ong said they are prepared for the battle, even if they play on opening against the team that beat them in the FIBA Asia Women’s in Bangkok, Thailand.

“We already made adjustments on our offense and in transition,” she said, adding that they have played against all the teams in the FIBA, except Myanmar.

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