Meet the Sinag Pilipinas: Philippine Basketball's New Hope
After reclaiming Asian basketball glory by finishing second place in the FIBA Asia Championship last August in Manila to qualify for the World Cup in Spain next year, the Philippines will try to continue its dominance in the 2013 edition of the Southeast Asian Games in Naypyidaw, the new capital of Myanmar. Sinag Pilipinas, the younger brother of the Gilas national squad, represents the proud 15-time champions - the most among all participating countries - of the biennial multi-sport event.
Although history shows that the Philippines is almost invincible in this SEA Games event, clinching the 16th crown is not going to be easy for the country with the ever-improving basketball talent of the neighboring nations. Make no mistake about it; Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore are nowhere near the likes of Iran, South Korea, or China. The ball is round, however,and crazier things have happened in basketball.
In Sinag's attempt to defend the nation's basketball supremacy in the region, the country's premier amateur talents and a familiar face are set to don Philippine colors to bring pride and honor to all Filipinos.
Kevin Alas, Garvo Lanete, and Matt Ganuelas - proud members of the Gilas cadet pool - are set to lead the Philippine squad. Having the most international experience among the locals, Alas provides accuracy behind the arc and stability in the backcourt. Lanete is expected to fuel the fastbreak with his solid individual and help defense, while Ganuelas is a matchup problem for any adversary in the shooting guard and small forward positions.
Top Amateur Standouts
Sinag banners some of the best players in the amateur ranks in recent memory with top-tier ballers such as two-time UAAP MVP Bobby Ray Parks, former San Sebastian Stag stalwart Ronald Pascual, and Ateneo's "King Eagle" Kiefer Ravena. Ray-ray, the son the multi-awarded PBA import Bobby Parks, is a walking mismatch with his ability to play any position on the court. The athletic Ronald Pascual is a vital cog in the Philippines' offensive thrust due to his deadly outside sniping, and Ravena, with his excellent individual skills, is one of the sharpest tools in the shed for Sinag.
The national squad is packed with highly talented players who can get hot at any given time. UST Growling Tiger Kevin Ferrer is a versatile wing player who can hurt the opposing team with his solid low-post game and sharpshooting prowess. UE Red Warrior Roi Sumang has an array of offensive moves.
Key Role Players
Sinag is not short of premium role players to play backup for the leaders of the team. Adamson leading scorer Jericho Cruz, up-and-coming FEU star Mark Belo, and PBA D-League Foundation Cup's Best Player of the Conference Jake Pascual are ready to provide additional firepower from the bench.
Lastly, the adopted son of the Philippines, Marcus Douthit, returns to duty and man the middle for Sinag. After missing the FIBA Asia championship showdown against eventual champs Iran due to injury, the naturalized center is undoubtedly the team's leader both offense and defense. He is what separates the Philippines from its challengers that are threatening to grab the crown the country has held since 1991.
The absence of La Salle superstars Jeron Teng and Arnold Van Opstal in the Sinag lineup is a clear indication that this is not the best amateur squad the nation can send to the SEA Games. Nevertheless, the combined basketball geniuses of the coaching staff, headed by seasoned coach Jong Uichico, is sure to provide proper guidance to the young guns of Philippine basketball, and extend the country's mastery over other nations.