Smart-Gilas is barely 10-strong for the 2011 SEABA Tournament

Japeth Aguilar is hampered by a broken foot
(image from
The Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championships is only a couple of days away, but this early the heavily-favored Smart-Gilas Pilipinas quintet is looking at a harder-than-expected grind.

Asi Taulava's inside presence will
be missed in the 2011 SEABA meet
(image by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
For one, they will be without ALL the pro players loaned to them by the PBA. Back-up slotman Asi Taulava returned to the Meralco Bolts. Dondon Hontiveros is seeing a truckload of minutes again with the Air21 Express. Kelly Williams and Jimmy Alapag, both of whom already missed the FIBA-Asia Champions Cup several weeks ago, also donned the Talk N Text colors for the Governors' Cup (Jimmy twisted his ankle too, which, hopefully, will heal up soon).

This means Gilas will have to make do with 10 men in the SEABA joust.

Not a problem under normal circumstances. They'll still shred the competition, right?

Not so fast.

Of the 10 remaining players, four are nursing significant injuries:
- Staring PG JV Casio and starting PF Japeth Aguilar both have injured feet.
- Back-up shooter Chris Lutz's quads are hurting.
- The explosive Dylan Ababou is coming off a fever.

Mark Barroca will have to step-up
for Gilas to do as well as expected
(image by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
Four down, and only six left healthy: Chris Tiu, Mark Barroca, Marcio Lassiter, Mac Baracael, the seldom-used Jason Ballesteros, and the newly-hitched Marcus Douthit, who just flew in from the US.

Add to that the fact that two of Gilas's  original big men, Greg Slaughter (7'0") and Aldrech Ramos (6'6"), will also miss the SEABA meet, and you have a sure recipe for uncertainty.

But does this mean we are no longer the favorites? 

Of course not.

Skipper Chris Tiu had this to say, “Despite these factors, I think we’ll be fine and we’re as eager to play and win the gold."


Not really. Just supreme confidence in his team, and the knowledge that the level of competition at the SEABA tourney isn't too scary.

Which might be the final ingredient for unexpected disaster. 

Mac Baracael's shooting will be a big part
of the Smart-Gilas offense
(image from
Marcio Lassiter will get a lot of burn
against Southeast Asian competition
(image by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)

I pray Gilas won't underestimate anybody in the SEABA competition, since failing to gain any of the top 3 slots will block our entry to the FIBA-Asia Men's Championships in Wuhan, China.

And who are we facing anyway? Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. Not exactly cringe-worthy opposition, but, as we say in the vernacular, bilog ang bola (the ball is round).

Anything can happen.

And these players can cause a bit of trouble for Gilas:

Malaysia's Guga Batumalai is dangerous on the wings
(image from
Shee Fai Loh is the top gunner for Malaysia
(image from
Koh Meng Koon is a Singaporean slasher worthy of note
(image from
Wong Wei Long is the dead-eye shooter from Singapore
(image from
Mario Wuysang is an athletic Indonesian guard
(image from

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