//Olympics 2024

What If: A Gilas Pilipinas Olympic Dream Team

Imagine if Gilas Pilipinas makes the Paris Olympics…and everyone, even the OGs in their prime, are good to play.  

Heading into the Paris Olympics, Gilas Pilipinas being part of the Philippine delegation is still a possibility. To recall, the Tim Cone-coached Gilas Pilipinas is set to compete for one Olympics spot come July in Latvia. 

And while we’re still months away from their Olympic Qualifying Tournament, some early hype has formed as well. Should Gilas hurdle over the OQT, they would officially be facing Germany, Japan, and France in the Paris Olympics’ group stages. 

Amid the hope and hype surrounding Gilas’ Olympic circumstances, we attempt to form our own Gilas Pilipinas “dream team”. The twist? Even past Gilas players may be included in our squad, including three of the best from the 20th century when the team was known simply as the RP team.

Starting five
PG: Robert Jaworski Sr.
The Living Legend takes charge for our hypothetical Gilas Pilipinas crew. (Robert Jaworski Sr. on Facebook)

Starting at point is the “Living Legend” Robert Jaworski, considered to be one of the greatest Filipino basketball players of all time. Without going into detail, this Gilas squad immediately gets one of the best, if not the best guards that Philippine basketball has produced. And at 6’1, Jaworski is a tall point guard even at the international level.

In terms of intangibles, Jaworski also commands a certain level of respect from his peers given his resume and raw talent. Without question, he is bound to become one of this team’s major voices.

SG: Jordan Clarkson
Gilas Piliipinas dream team: Jordan Clarkson
Without question, Jordan Clarkson is our pick for naturalized player. (FIBA)

FIBA rules dictate that only one naturalized player can be fielded per squad. Given this, we picked Jordan Clarkson. 

While others may argue Justin Brownlee’s local familiarity, or Andray Blatche’s floor spacing, the level of Clarkson’s talent is incomparable. Compared to other naturalized selections, Clarkson brings high NBA-level experience, establishing himself as a premier off-the-bench spark plug.

SF: Ramon Fernandez
El Presidente starts at the three spot. (Basketbol ng Pilipinas on Facebook)

At his peak, Ramon Fernandez stood at around 6’4 or 6’5, so we’re placing him at the three spot instead of his usual center position. Also, his dribbling and passing skills would make him an ideal small forward. In the PBA, Fernandez left the league as its top all-time scorer and rebounder. In terms of assists, Fernandez only trails Jaworski all-time in the same league.

PF: Japeth Aguilar
Gilas Piliipinas dream team: Japeth Aguilar
Gilas Pilipinas veteran and the physically gifted Japeth Aguilar will be one of our starting big guys. (FIBA)

Japeth Aguilar is arguably one of the most physically gifted Filipino basketball players. Standing at 6’9, Aguilar is also gifted with athleticism, meaning fans at any level are bound to see the guy dunk at least once. 

More than his physical gifts, Aguilar also packs a solid defensive instinct, which has resulted in outright swats at the defensive end. 

C: June Mar Fajardo
Gilas Piliipinas dream team: June Mar Fajardo
Without a doubt, June Mar Fajardo will always be associated with Gilas Pilipinas. (FIBA)

JMF’s game has never really been the Kraken internationally. However, he’s shown flashes, especially in the past that he can be a reliable contributor at this level. Offhand, we can think back to Gilas Pilipinas’ World Cup game versus Dominican Republic where Fajardo had a convincing 16-point and seven-rebound outing. 

Like most players on our team, Fajardo has been one of Gilas Pilipinas’ mainstays. Besides an explosion or two, we can expect the Kraken to act as a coach to the big men in this squad. 

Jimmy Alapag
Jimmy Alapag will serve as our back up facilitator. (FIBA)

What Jimmy Alapag lacks in height, he compensated for with nimbleness and a shot ideal for the modern game. Complementing that, was a clutch gene, and playmaking prowess. These very attributes led us to choosing him as backup to Robert Jaworski Sr.

Alapag’s clutch gene in particular, was a key factor in Gilas’ 86-79 victory over South Korea in the 2013 FIBA Asia Cup. More than a 2014 FIBA World Cup ticket, Alapag’s long bombs in the tiff helped end then-11-year-old “Korean curse”. 

More than his game, Alapag also brings leadership. Given the mental side of sports, it’s important for this Gilas Pilipinas squad to have another rock amid the Olympics.

Caloy Loyzaga
Of course, Caloy Loyzaga is also in this squad. (FIBA)

Caloy Loyzaga on the bench is more in consideration of the modern game. Don’t get it wrong though, this doesn’t hope to diminish “The Big Difference’s” all-time great status in Philippine basketball lore. 

Ranidel de Ocampo 
Ranidel de Ocampo can stretch the floor, alongside being one of this Gilas crew’s chief enforcers. (FIBA)

While undersized, RDO can be useful to stretch the floor. Besides his inside game, de Ocampo also comes in with a reliable jumpshot, which has become an essential for modern big men. 

However, we also decided to bring in RDO for his grit. Besides being one of this Gilas Pilipinas’ spark plugs, de Ocampo can and will also act as one of Gilas’ tough guys who’s willing to do the dirty work if needed.

Kai Sotto
Kai Sotto has proven he can be a mainstay in Gilas Pilipinas programs moving forward. (FIBA)

Standing at 7’3, it’s not like basketball teams get a Kai Sotto often. So far, Sotto has been a reliable inside guy, with his strengths in being a lob threat and post-up option on offense, and a menacing presence on the other end.

Dwight Ramos 
Dwight Ramos has been one of the steadier Gilas Pilipinas players in recent memory. (FIBA)

Dwight Ramos has been a fixture in more recent Gilas Pilipinas teams. Ramos has been a familiar face from the short-lived Tab Baldwin comeback in 2021, to the now-Tim Cone era of Gilas Pilipinas basketball. 

An eye test of Ramos shows he’s got a good set of offensive fundamentals, a solid defender, and can facilitate when needed. What Ramos lacks in flashy highlights, is well compensated for by consistency, and a certain steadiness in his Gilas Pilipinas outings.  

Kevin Quiambao 
One of the fastest rising Filipino players today is Kevin Quiambao. (FIBA)

Kevin Quiambao is one of the most hyped Filipino basketball players right now. With him, teams are getting a 6’7 wunderkind whose passing game immediately stands out. 

Also there is a mostly reliable jumpshot for Quiambao, and an ability to drive to the basket. While the latter may be neutralized at the Olympic level, trust that Quiambao’s playmaking and shooting will more than compensate for that. 

Jamie Malonzo
Should he break out, Jamie Malonzo can be a threat at the international level. (FIBA)

Jamie Malonzo’s addition for this Gilas Pilipinas team is built on practicality. The former DLSU Green Archer comes in with a physical build well suited against Gilas’ possible opponents in Paris. 

While he’s yet to give us memorable games, Malonzo has shown potential in the Philippines. In the UAAP, he was a silent killer under the one-time Jermaine Byrd era. Come the pros, Malonzo has shown his offensive prowess in Northport, and now under Tim Cone’s Ginebra. 

Banner Image from FIBA

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