2016 SEABA Stankovic Cup Preview: Cadets ripe for an upset?

There are two FIBA Asia Challenge tickets up for grabs in the 2016 SEABA Stankovic Cup, which will be held in Thailand starting tomorrow, May 22, 2016.

The Gilas Cadets of the Philippines are the heavy favorites though they will be without several marquee amateur talents like Kiefer Ravena and Ray Parks. Also, unlike last year, Gilas won’t be reinforced by Marcus Douthit, which means the team will be significantly smaller. Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore are going to pose quite a challenge, but it’s host squad Thailand that can really spring an upset against our boys.

Now, let’s take a glance at each of the five contenders’ rosters and try to give a reasonable prognosis for their upcoming performances.

PHILIPPINES
Almond Vosotros – 5’9 – G
Mike Tolomia – 5’11 – G
Troy Rosario – 6’7 – F/C
Jio Jalalon – 5’10 – PG
Jonas Tibayan – 6’2 – F
Ken Holmqvist – 6’8 – C
Kevin Ferrer – 6’4 – F
Raymar Jose – 6’5 – C
Mac Belo – 6’3 – F
RR Pogoy – 6’2 – G/F
Russell Escotto – 6’6 – C
Von Pessumal – 6’2 – G/F

I’ve already written about my anxieties with this squad. It’s certainly not that this Gilas Cadets team is “below par.” I mean, it’s still, by far, the most talented team in this field, but I wonder if that will be enough for them after just a few weeks of training to pocket not just one FIBA Asia Challenge berth but also the gold. Only half of the guys on this team were around when the Cadets won the gold in the 2015 SEABA Championship (Troy, Almond, Mac, Russell, Jio, and Kevin), so the other guys on this roster are relatively inexperienced in the international game. Tolomia, Tibayan, and Pessumal have played at the youth level before, but Holmqvist, Pogoy, and Jose are greenhorns at this level. With coach Nash Racela calling the shots, however, one can expect that this will be a well-oiled, well-drilled machine that will be relentless on both ends. On paper, the Filipinos should coast to the championship, but titles are never won on paper, so the Pinoys should never overlook any of their foes.

SINGAPORE
Chin Hong Tan – 6’1 – G/F
Kelvin Lim – 6’3 – F
Delvin Goh – 6’7 – C
Qing Huang Toh – 6’0 – G
Leon Kwek – 6’2 – G/F
Ding Loon Tay – 6’2 – F
John Ng – 5’11 – PG
Shengyu Lim – 6’4 – F/C
Andrew Tang – G
Remus Low – 6’1 – F/G
Justin Lim – 6’4 – F/C
Lyon Chia – G/F

Had Singapore sent its best team, they would’ve have as big of a chance as the Thais to mess things up for the Filipinos, but, alas, a number of marquee names are missing. The glaring omissions are Hanbin Ng, Larry Liew, Wu Qingde, Desomd Oh, Leon Kwek, and Wong Wei Long — all of whom have been veterans of the national team and their ABL club, the Singapore Slingers. This would’ve been a golden opportunity for those guys to slip past the Philippines, but a relatively untested crew will have to take their place. Still, with 6’7 Delvin Goh in the middle and guys like Chin Hong Tan, Kelvin Lim, Qing Huang Toh, and John Ng bringing their own experience to the fore, the Singaporeans can still contend for a spot in the FIBA Asia Challenge.

INDONESIA
Muhamad Wardana – 6’5 – C
Restu Purnomo – 6’4 – F/C
Barra Sugianto – 6’2 – F
Dian Heryadi – 6’4 – F/C
Francisco Da Silva – 6’1 – SG
Gian Gumilar – 5’11 – PG
Indra Muhammad – 6’3 – SG
Raylly Handoyo – 6’5 – SF
Surliyadin Surliyadin – 6’2 – SF
Teddy Romadonsyahah – 6’2 – SF
Untung Maryono – 6’6 – C
Yerikho Tuasela – 5’11 – PG

With the exception of Wardana and Purnomo, this is a completely fresh squad for Indonesia. Many of their guys are hodge-podge picks from different NBL clubs (mostly the ones who failed to qualify to the NBL Playoffs), and it’ll be very interesting to see if they will be able show good team chemistry on the floor. Wardana and Purnomo are expected to be their main frontliners in this tourney, while Indra Muhammad and Gian Gumilar will probably do much of the scoring from the perimeter. Another one to watch is undersized but hardworking PF/C Barra Sugianto.

MALAYSIA
Chee Huei Liaw – 6’2 – G/F
Chee Kheun Ma – 6’0 – G
Ivan Yeo – 6’4 – F
Kok Huo Teo – 5’10 – PG
Lok Seng Mak – 6’5 – F/C
Tian Yuan Kuek – 6’7 – C
Wei Hong Choo – 6’5 – F/C
Cheng Wah Chin
Hong Hoong Gan – 6’1 – G
Wei Yong Ong
Yi Hou Wong – 6’5 – F/C
Yoong Jing Kwaan – 6’7 – C

For me, the best Malaysian national quintet has always been the 2011 version that featured the likes of Guga Batumalai, Shee Fai Loh, Chee Li Wei, and the seemingly immortal Ban Sin Ooi. That team made the second round of the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship in Wuhan and finished with 3 wins in 8 games, beating India once and Uzbekistan twice. Since then, the veterans have been eschewed in favor of younger talents, but that scheme hasn’t really panned out too well. One standout, though, has been 6’4 forward Ivan Yeo. Yeo led the team in scoring in last year’s FIBA Asia Championship, SEABA Championship, and SEA Games, and he should continue being this team’s most potent offensive force. The twin tower combo of Tian Yuan Kuek and Yoong Jing Kwaan has always been intriguing if a tad underwhelming.

THAILAND
Attaporn Lertmalaiporn – 6’4 – F
Bandit Lakhan – G
Chanachon Klahan – 6’3 – F
Chitchai Ananti – 6’4 – G/F
Darongphan Apiromwilaichai – 6’2 – G
Jittaphon Towaeroj – 6’1 – G/F
Kannut Samerjai – 6’0 – G
Nakorn Jaisanuk – 6’2 – F
Pairach Sekteera – 6’2 – F
Patipan Klahan – F
Sukdave Ghogar – 6’5 – C
Teerawat Chantachon – 6’5 – F/C

Hands down, the Thais are the biggest and most dangerous threat to the Filipinos winning this whole thing. They are bringing a team loaded with veterans, specifically some guys who were on the team that came very close to beating the Philippines in last year’s SEA Games. Like last year, the guys to watch on this team include top playmaker Kannut Samerjai, shooter Darongphan Apiromvilaichai, versatile forward Chanachon Klahan, big man Sukhdave Ghogar, and veteran wingman Attaporn Lertmalaiporn. Those are certainly players new coach Tim Lewis can count on, while young studs like Patipan Klahan and Bandit Lakhan are expected to contribute heavily. A potential x-factor is Chitchai Ananti, who was among the TBL’s best two-way players last season. Noticeably absent, however, are three key players from their 2015 team that really made life tough for the Cadets in the SEA Games: Nattakarn Muangboon, Ratdech Kruatiwa, and Wutipong Dasom.  – By Enzo Flojo

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