Gilas Pilipinas battles Vietnam


    A day after trouncing Singapore, Gilas Pilipinas battles Vietnam Friday, seeking the lead in Group A of the men’s basketball action in the 30th Southeast Asian Games at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

    The match is set at 8:15 p.m., with the Filipinos favored to win although coach Tim Cone expects the Vietnamese to give them fits.

    The Filipinos manhandled the Singaporeans on Wednesday, scoring a runaway 110-58 triumph, while the Vietnamese waylaid Myanmar 131-52.

    “We’re a little bit herky-jerky. We weren’t smooth offensively. We had to make an adjustment at halftime,” Cone said of their battle against the Singaporeans, adding they can’t afford to do the same against Vietnam.

    Cone is in his second tour of duty as coach of the national team, having called the shots for the Philippines in the 1998 Asian Games. He said he was a little bit anxious early against Singapore “getting the feel of calling the shots again for the national team. I was still young then, but now I think I have gone wiser, and mature enough now for the games.”

    Myanmar and Singapore clash in the opening game of a four-game bill at 12 noon while Malaysia and Cambodia battle at 2:15.

    The lone women’s match at 6 p.m. pits Thailand against Indonesia, with the Thais out to score a big follow-up to their shock 70-47 win over defending champion Malaysia on Wednesday.

    “I don’t think we’ve played our best basketball (against Singapore),” Cone said. “I feel like our guys came out and took a serious approach. I think they’re trying to show the country that they’re gonna take a serious approach and respect the game. When you respect the game, you respect your opponent.”

    Cone said he is wary of Thailand, which opened its campaign by beating Indonesia, 98-76, and Malaysia.

    “At this point, you can’t say anything on each team now, just like Thailand beating title contender Indonesia. You can’t count out Malaysia which is constantly improving. We just play it by ear and have my other coaches do the scouting,” said Cone.

    Thailand, meanwhile, swamped Cambodia yesterday 83-68 and clinched a semifinals berth in the men’s class.

    The Thais limited the Cambodians to just eight points in the first quarter while scoring 23 markers and posted their biggest lead at 66-37 en route to seizing the lead in B.

    “We are doing alright. We want to work out some things that could give us opportunities in our coming games. We did some plays out there that could help us more against other club in the other side and will have a practice tonight for our game against Malaysia,” said Thai coach Chris Daleo, whose charges went into the match armed with a 75-61 win over Indonesia.