The pressure on Gilas Pilipinas will be heavy as co-hosts of the FIBA World Cup, but the recent pool definitely shows promise.
After being tight-lipped for a considerable period of time, the 21-man Gilas pool was just recently announced. And if you ask me, there’s a lot to like about it which we’re breaking down for you guys.
Granted, there are still several names that I find myself wanting to be part of the pool, but this list is a very welcome development considering how things have been the past couple of go rounds.
Let’s keep things in perspective
Keep in mind that as far as the FIBA World Cup is concerned, the goal is for the Philippines to advance to the next round. And for that to happen, we need to be part of the top two teams in our group.
As a quick reminder, The Philippines (ranked 40th) is grouped with Angola (41st), Dominican Republic (23rd), and Italy (10th) as determined during the recent FIBA World Cup Draw.
If you’re like me, then immediately after the draw, one of the first things you did was to re-watch our most recent match-ups with these teams and try and gauge our chances against them while also looking at what can be improved.
Sadly, we lost all of our recent match-ups with our group mates. But when I say that there is a lot to like, what I meant was that this pool of players was put together to address the adjustments necessary for us to gain a more favorable outcome this time around.
The 21-man Gilas pool includes 9 Guards, 6 Forwards, and 6 Bigs:
Jordan Clarkson, Dwight Ramos, Roger Ray Pogoy, Kai Sotto, Chris Newsome, Jamie Malonzo, June Mar Fajardo, Kiefer Ravena, Thirdy Ravena, Ange Kouame, CJ Perez, Justin Brownlee, AJ Edu, Rhenz Abando, Calvin Oftana, Japeth Aguilar, Jordan Heading, Carl Tamayo, Poy Erram, Scottie Thompson, Bobby Ray Parks Jr.
What’s there to like?
Availability. I think you all joined me in a collective sigh of relief. For far too long now, availability has been one of the issues that have plagued our National Team. And rather than get into detail and be transported to a time and place that causes the collective ire of our basketball-crazy nation, let’s just acknowledge and thank the powers that be and the players themselves for coming together for this historic event.
The talent available in the Gilas pool is deep, and more importantly, the names thrown into the mix are fit for the FIBA style of play.
Energy and Excitement. I simply cannot understate the importance of energy and excitement and the role that it plays in Philippine basketball — most particularly since we are the host country. The passion that we have for the game of basketball is one that is very visible, you see. And you can see it not just with the fans, but even with the players, the coaches, and the team executives themselves!
Energy is contagious. It’s electric. And most importantly it has the power to influence the ebb & flow of the game. The energy exchange is one that is best described as a symbiotic relationship between the crowd and the players. They draw energy from one another — where the players get a boost from the fans, while the fans are always waiting for a reason to erupt in jubilation.
Looking at the names in the Gilas pool, I see a lot of instances where the Filipino crowd would definitely find reasons to go bananas!
Experience. This is arguably the most important of the things on this list. And by that what I mean is this pool has a wealth of collective experience from not just in previous FIBA tournaments, but as well as various basketball leagues worldwide.
All of the names on this list have represented the country on the international stage in some way or form — and that is important.
And as long as we are on the subject of experience, one of the most important things to mention is that we have players that have faced these familiar foes. And that too, provides valuable experience which we can definitely build on.
Shooting. This is undoubtedly an area where we have struggled the most in our recent outings — even in our recent victories. Shooting is usually the weapon that we have to tip the balance in our favor in international contests. What we lack in athleticism and height, we make up for with points from the outside.
This, I’m sure, will be something of paramount consideration when selecting the final 12. But what we have going for us right now is that the right names are on the list as far as this specific item is concerned.
Length. The only time that the Philippines has a chance to be the tallest team in international competition is during the SEA Games. Beyond that, most especially in FIBA, it’s almost impossible. That being said, however, while Kai Sotto stands alone at 7’2, what we have started to develop among our homegrown talents are skilled and lengthy guards and forwards.
This list of players showcases that collection of this new breed of talent more than any other pool that I can remember.
Anyway, that concludes the list of things that I like about this recently announced pool. As far as I’m concerned, this pool announcement is a step in the right direction toward ensuring that we have a World Cup hosting that we can be proud of!
Banner image from FIBA Basketball.