The Thailand men's basketball team will have another reason to end that long series of defeats at the hands of the Philippines in regional men's basketball competition. According to rumors, one of the sponsors of this Thai team promised to reward a considerable amount of money if they can upset the star-studded Philippine squad on Tuesday.
Bounty for defeating the favorites:
Even before the SEABA championship began, Philippine men's basketball team head coach Chot Reyes has expected this Thai team to give them a bit of a challenge in the tournament, with or without their naturalized player.
Thai-Americans Tyler Lamb, Freddie Lish and Moses Morgan might have decided to skip the FIBA Asia Cup qualifier tournament due to family matters, but this Thai team is still loaded with weapons. Flashy guard Chitchai Ananti has been the main gunner for this squad, averaging a tournament high 24 points per game. Then there's Irish-Thai Wutipong Dasom, who introduced himself to everybody last Monday by exploding for 40 points against lowly Myanmar.
Although they aren't longer sporting an undefeated slate (thanks to one-point loss to Indonesia last Sunday) heading into much-anticipated showdown with Gilas Pilipinas, Thailand have still good reasons to play their best against the squad labeled as the 'Dream Team' of South East Asian basketball arena.
One of the sponsors apparently put a bounty of roughly $1 million for the Thai team, if they can pull off an upset against this vaunted Philippine team. The name of the sponsor was not disclosed, although the Thai team's biggest backer is media and technology giant MONO Group.
Legit SEA Games Threat:
It might be a little bit ambitious for this Thai team to gun a for a victory against this particular Philippine team, but there's no denying that they are going to be legit gold medal contender at the South East Asian Games in Malaysia this August.
With the Philippines expected to field their 'A-team' to the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon, they might be forced to dispatch their vulnerable Gilas Cadets team once again. For Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, this could serve as an opening to finally dethrone the basketball Kings of South East Asia.
By August, Thailand is expected to get the service of one of their Thai-Americans, while Indonesia will more likely have the service Arki Wisnu and Jamar Johnson, who were reduced to spectators' role after failing to file enough documents to prove their eligibility in the FIBA-sanctioned tournament.