PHI, Thailand go for jugular; eye finals duel in 30th SEAG men’s basketball

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National team coach Tim Cone giving instructions.

GAMES MONDAY (Mall of Asia Arena)

3:45 p.m. – Thailand vs. Vietnam (M)

6 p.m. – Indonesia vs. Malaysia (W)

8:15 p.m. – Philippines vs. Indonesia (M)

MANILA, Philippines – All roads lead anew to the MOA Arena as the Philippines and Thailand face their respective opponents in a triple bill today in the 30th Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball tournament.

Both countries pin to win in their respective do-or-die semifinal encounters and arrange, perhaps, another championship duel in the biennial meet.

First to take the floor is Team Thailand opposite Vietnam in the 3:45 p.m. opener followed by the women’s Indonesia-Malaysia tiff at 6 p.m.p wherein the winner will automatically move on to the championship gold medal round.

Gilas Pilipinas, meantime, test the mettle of Indonesia at 8:15 p.m.

Gilas on Saturday cruised past Myanmar 136-67 to set up a semis battle against the Indons, now handled by former Gilas coach Rajko Toroman.

Indonesia dumped Cambodia 100-71 to finish second in Group B and Toroman immediately looked forward to facing Gilas, the forerunner of which he founded.

Toroman said the Gilas Pilipinas squad under Tim Cone is better than the squad that went winless in the FIBA World Cup in China.

“They have chemistry, they have quality, they have a new coach,” Toroman said. “I don’t think the team in the World Cup had chemistry. Maybe they had more individual quality … with (Andray) Blatche, but when Blatche is not there, well, this team has a special chemistry.”

The Serbian coach, who coached the original Gilas Pilipinas team from 2009 to 2011, watched the Philippines in action against Myanmar.

Gilas coach Tim Cone said he’s friends with Toroman on and off the court but come game time, they have to move on with their own responsibilities.

“We all know him, how great he’s been with the original Gilas team with Mark Barroca, Marcio Lassiter. So, he was kind as the founder of the Gilas program,” said Cone.

“He coached in the PBA. We know how good he is, and we know how disciplined his teams are, usually very great shooting teams. But we have our own job to finish,” Cone said. (LO/IAMIGO/CNS)

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