Who will Tab Baldwin pick for Gilas 3.0?
The next national squad, dubbed Gilas 3.0, will have the heavy task of winning the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in China in order to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics. A pool of players must then be formed soon to start preparations for this tough assignment.
Playing in FIBA competitions is very different from playing in the PBA. Some PBA superstars that dominate in the professional league will struggle in international tournaments. But some PBA role players will make great national players. The selection for Gilas 3.0 must therefore not be based on star status but on what the player can offer to the team.
Here are some guidelines to choosing the players for the National Team:
1. International Experience. As mentioned earlier, the international game is very different from the Pinoy brand of basketball. While skills matter a lot, team play becomes more valuable because most, if not all, national teams are great because of their teamwork. Watch the Europeans and even East Asians. They move the ball a lot. Their passes are crisp. They dribble less. And they always look for the open man. Most of their post players can also shoot well from long distance. And they love giving screens. Even the officiating is different. Oftentimes, Filipinos get called for fouls and traveling violations that are not often called locally. This is why it is important to get players that already have been exposed to the international game so the preparation, both physical and mental, will be a lot easier.
2. Size. Yes, size definitely matters in FIBA competitions. This is because most teams field big players, both in height and heft. In basketball, there should be no doubt that “height is might.”
3. Outside Shooting. In most of Gilas 2.0’s wins, outside shooting became one of the biggest factors. Such was the case when Jimmy Alapag waxed hot from beyond the arc in the team’s victories over Korea in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship and Senegal in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. If we can have at least three guys on the floor that can shoot well, it would take away our opponents’ size advantage.
4. Youth. Younger teams are emerging in international competitions. Teams from China, Japan, Chinese Taipei, and Lebanon are starting to give their young players, aged below 25 years old, more exposure. Even world heavy weights like the USA, Lithuania and Australia are looking at a younger pool of talents. The Philippines was one of the oldest teams in the recent World Cup. The heavy grind in training, and playing against big players can be too taxing to older warriors. Ideally, the team must have mostly players between 22 and 28 years old.
5. Selflessness. When playing for flag and country, a national player must put the team above all.There is no place for a superstar mentality. Even the most talented player must sometimes be role players and make his teammates shine. This is why some PBA stars are not suited for the national team. Not that they are selfish. It’s more because they are used to having the ball most of the time, and taking the most shots. When their attempts fall short of usual number, they can’t shoot well. More importantly, the player must be willing to sacrifice for the sake of the team, which includes investing a lot of time and effort in trainings despite personal activities. Training for FIBA competitions is by no means a walk in the park. It’s unlike most PBA practices. Remember that players must get used to playing tough games everyday. Also, sometimes a player must even be willing to give up his slot in the team if somebody else can perform the task better.
6. Adaptability. Every team member must expect very different playing conditions when playing outside the Philippines. This includes travel issues like weather, distance, immigration concerns, language, culture, and in some cases, even discrimination. Of course, game conditions are huge success factors as well – officiating, opponents’ strengths, type of ball used, venue situations, crowd behavior, etc. And then there is the new system injected by the new coach. Baldwin is a veteran guru in international play. He is familiar with the Filipino style but he will most certainly tweak this to one that is more suitable for FIBA games. And so, players that get picked for the team must be open to learn new stuff and unlearn old habits.
Having considered all this, I would like to nominate 14 names for the Gilas 3.0 pool.
1. Paul Lee. No-brainer. Tall guard with excellent skills and international experience. He is very smart too. He brings to the international arena the best of the Pinoy style with his unpredictable moves towards the basket and amazing dribbling prowess. More importantly, he can shoot well from long distance.
2. JVee Casio. He may be Jimmy’s second coming in the national team. Intelligent playmaker with a deadly shot from rainbow land. Can read the defense very well. Very effective with the pick and roll. Uses his excellent dribbling skills to elude tall defenders and score on penetrations. Casio was once considered by many as Asia’s best point guard when he played for Gilas 1.0.
3. Mark Barroca. One of the best young guards in the land today, Mark has truly come out of his shell to become Purefoods Star’s top playmaker. A workhorse, his physical conditioning and speed will definitely be a huge asset for Gilas 3.0. He is also one of the best defenders in the position. Equipped with international experience, being part of Gilas 1.0, Barroca is used to defending against bigger guards in Asia. He is also deadly in the open court and has developed tremendously with his outside sniping.
1. Jayson Castro William. The man they call “the Blur” is one of the most feared guards in Asia with his blinding speed in fast breaks and penetrations. He is surely tough to shackle. His international stint with Gilas 2.0 has made him a better player. If Baldwin maintains the Dribble Drive Offense, William will surely be a key ingredient in this mix.
2. Marcio Lassiter. This former Gilas 1.0 guard can be a very important addition to the national squad. He is strong, skilled and smart. He can use his quickness and upper body strength to penetrate against bigger defenders. And he can sink the open jumper even from long distance. But more importantly, Marcio is an excellent on-the-ball defender. Baldwin will need him against the best scoring guards and small forwards in the FIBA competitions.
3. Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. The only non-professional player in this list, Ray Ray has the traits of becoming a great Gilas member. The two-time UAAP MVP is a 6’4” guard that can do most everything on the court, especially on the offensive end. He can surely penetrate and destroy defenses. And he can score heavily from outside as well. He is smart and works hard. And he has a passion for the country like his late father Bobby Sr. Ray Ray bagged MVP honor in the last SEABA tournament when he played for the Sinag Pilipinas team.
1. Gabe Norwood. Any player who can dunk over Luis Scola should be considered for Gilas 3.0. Gabe is the complete package. He is an excellent role player but can take the big shots. He can play multiple positions, including the point guard position. Highly intelligent, Gabe is perfect for any basketball system because he can fit any style. And, at 6’5”, he is a great defensive player against both wing players and post players. He may be over 28 years old but he is still physically good for the international game. His various stints with the Philippine team can also come in handy, particularly in guiding the younger players.
2. Jeff Chan. Still arguably the best long-distance sniper in the land, Jeff deserves another tour of duty with the national team. After all, many say he is the closest player to Allan Caidic’s mold. And as mentioned, a small team like ours must have exceptional long-distance gunners to survive. Jeff has proven to be a key player for Gilas 2.0 in several FIBA games.
3. Calvin Abueva. “The Beast” may be a strange choice for international competitions. At 6’1”, he is too short for the forward position in any FIBA event. Plus, he is not a good outside shooter and shows no international experience. But Abueva best exemplifies the Filipino fighting spirit – that never-say-die attitude despite tremendous odds. He does not back down from anybody. He is also the most athletic player in the PBA today. He is ultra fast and strong. He works like a dog on the floor, diving for loose balls and snaring numerous offensive boards. What he can bring to Gilas 3.0 is incredible energy and a huge fighting heart.
1. Andray Blatche. This former NBA forward was the main reason Gilas 2.0 became admirable in last year’s FIBA World Cup. Blatche bested all international stars in terms of Efficiency rating with a grade of 22.4. A close second was Spain’s Pau Gasol, with 21.7. The former Brooklyn Net also normed 21.2 markers and 13.8 rebounds in the World Cup to lead Gilas in both departments. He proved to be capable of scoring from the outside as well, both from penetrations and outside shots. Moreover, he has displayed passion for the Philippines during his brief stay with the National team.
2. Ranidel De Ocampo. Another exemption in my age rule, RDO is hard to replace in the Gilas roster because of so many things he brings to the table. Aside from his vast experience in international competitions, Ranidel is a remarkable scorer at the power forward position. And he is a dead-shot from beyond the arc, something that is badly needed in FIBA games. He can also post-up, penetrate and defend the post well. He also brings intelligence and leadership on the floor.
3. Japeth Aguilar. This 6’9” forward has all the physical attributes needed in international jousts. He is highly athletic and quick. As his former Gilas 1.0 mentor, Rajko Toroman, would say, “he can jump to the roof.” Japeth is excellent in the open court and is skilled enough to score on short jumpers. But also, Gilas needs an electrifying player that can excite the crowd. His slam dunks and monster blocks can add spice to the team.
1. June Mar Fajardo. Enough has been said about the outstanding improvement of this 6’11” behemoth from Cebu. Fajardo has now become the PBA’s most dominant player. His size and youth should serve Gilas well. And his previous combats with Scola and the rest of the World Cup giants have certainly boosted his value in the National team. Now we have a homegrown center that can hold his own against the world’s best centers.
2. Greg Slaughter. At 7’0”, Greg is the perfect back-up for Fajardo. No stranger to international play, as a former member of Gilas 1.0, Slaughter has experience in battling bigger players. He suited up for the National Team in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou and fared well. In the PBA, he has become a headache to many teams with his post moves and rebounding ability. Greg is also smart and can adapt to any system.
There are other notable names that can be considered by Baldwin. The PBA is certainly deep in talent. It will be a happy problem for the new national team coach.
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