Naniniwala si Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone na hindi pupuwedeng maliitin ng Pilipinas ang mga kapitbahay nitong bansa sa rehiyon ng Timog-Silangang Asya pagdating sa larong basketball.
Ito’y kahit na nadagit ng Philippine men’s basketball team ang kanilang ika-13 sunod na gintong medalya sa pagtatapos ng kanilang kampanya sa 30th Southeast Asian Games makaraang gibain ang Thailand.
Ayon kay Cone, unti-unti na raw kasing nakakahabol sa Pilipinas ang iba pang mga bansa sa nasabing laro.
Dahil dito, inihayag ni Cone na hindi na raw dapat puro amateurs lamang ang isabak ng bansa sa ganitong uri ng mga kompetisyon.
“Everybody makes a comment that anybody from the Philippines can beat these teams. And we turned around and looked at each other from a coaching standpoint and said, ‘So you think an amateur team could’ve beat that team?’ And everyone said, no,” wika ni Cone.
“We can’t bring amateurs anymore to the Southeast Asian Games. The (opponents) have gotten too good. If you bring an amateur team, who would play the center position for us, if we brought amateurs at this point?
“We’d be good with Kobe Paras and Thirdy Ravena, but who would play the centers? Who would be the 6-9, 6-10, 6-11 guys that could compete with Thailand and Vietnam and the other guys, like June Mar (Fajardo) and those guys can.”
“We gotta bring our best players and if we bring our best players, sometimes we’re gonna have these kinds of games and there’s no in-between. You’re gonna bring amateurs or you’re gonna bring the best players in the PBA, who are the best players in the country? And they’re gonna be good cause we got size, we’ve got shooting, we’ve got point guard play, we’ve got defenders.”
Sambit pa ni Cone, magsisimula ang pagdausdos ng bansa sa basketball sa oras na isipin nitong hindi sila matitibag sa kanilang puwesto bilang top team sa sport.
“Honestly, Southeast Asia is catching up, and that’s a good thing,” ani Cone. “That’s a good thing for basketball around the world. It’s a good thing for us, and it’s a good thing for them.”