After facing Thailand four times in the last two years, Gilas forward Troy Rosario is confident that the Filipinos can get the job done even if the Thais will be reinforced by the US-raised Tyler Lamb in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games.
The 6-7 Rosario, one of three big players who’ll man the front court for the cadets side, open the SEA Games men’s basketball title-retention bid against Thailand on Sunday at the newly-refurbished MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The 26-year-old Lamb will be a huge boost for the Thais, who have made Gilas, bannered by cadet players sweat in two of their last four meetings since the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.
Thailand gave the Philippines anxious moments in the Singapore SEA Games in 2015 when the Filipinos hacked out a narrow 80-75 decision in the semifinals after playing catch-up basketball.
In last year’s SEABA Cup, Gilas needed two late triples to escape host Thailand, 66-65, in their final elimination round meeting in Bangkok. The Gilas cadets, reinforced by Rosario, then a PBA rookie, eventually repeated over Thailand, 97-80, in the finals.
Rosario’s fourth face off with Thailand was easier though last May as Gilas, bannered by Andray Blatche, bludgeoned Thailand, 108-53 in the SEABA Championships held in Manila.
But Thailand will surely benefit from Lamb, who has made a name for himself in the region after being named the ASEAN Heritage MVP, having led the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions to the 2017 ABL championship a few months ago.
The former Long Beach standout averaged 18.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.5 steals for the Long Lions.
But Rosario is not all too concerned with Lamb, noting that the Thai-American wingman alone can’t lift Thailand against a focused Gilas side.
“Nakita ko na din siya (Lamb) maglaro, pero inisip ko di naman kaya ng isa eh,” shared the 25-year-old TNT big man.
“May nababasa ako sa tweet niya na parang year daw ng Thailand ngayon, makaka-ano daw sila ng upset, pero tingin ko di kaya ng isa na talunin tayo kasi maraming beses na tayo nanalo sa SEA Games saka intact pa din yung team,” he stressed.
The second overall pick of TNT in the 2015 PBA Draft said the Gilas cadets are coming off a decent finish in the recent William Jones Cup in Taipei.
Led by Kiefer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks and Fil-German Christian Standhardinger, who is expected to join the team in Kuala Lumpur after coming from the FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut, Rosario knows they have the talent while team chemistry is pretty solid under coach Jong Uichico.
“Tingin ko kung sinasabi niya (Lamb) mna makaka-upset dahil lang sa kanya di niya magagawa yun,” he said. “Mas ready kami and yung iba kagagaling lang sa Jones Cup so fresh pa sa kanila nyung gagawin sa court at nira-run na system.”
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