MANILA Philippines --- Smart Gilas Pilipinas battles Singapore to start of its title campaign in the SEABA qualifier for the FIBA Asia Cup on Wednesday at the 700 Year Stadium in Chiang Mai , Thailand .
Favored to win the tournament, the Gilas selection team is out to make an impression in the five-day tournament when it faces the Singaporeans at 2 p.m. local time ( 3 p.m. Manila time).
The five-country event began at presstime yesterday with Indonesian NBL champion Satria Muda BritAma taking on Malaysia and host Thailand facing Singapore in the doubleheader.
The top team after the single-round event will qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup (formerly FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup) slated Sept. 14-22 in Tokyo , Japan .
Coached by former PBA champion coach Jong Uichico, the Gilas team will be reinforced by the Alaska trio of LA Tenorio, Mac Baracael and Sonny Thoss after the Aces were booted out of the season-ending Governors' Cup.
Other notable members are original Gilas mainstays Chris Tiu, naturalized center Marcus Douthit and Aldrech Ramos, who recently played for the AirAsia Philippine Patriots in the ASEAN Basketball League.
The rest of the team is composed of players from the three-time PBA D-League champion NLEX Road Warriors in Garvo Lanete, Emman Monfort, Dave Marcelo, Borgie Hermida and Woody Co.
NLEX Fil-Ams Cliff Hodge and Chris Ellis and Cebuana Lhuillier's Vic Manuel were supposed to don the National colors but were not included at the last minute for various reasons.
Singapore will be led by Desmond Oh, Pathmann Matialakan and Wei Long Wong, all of whom played for the Slingers in the recent ABL season.