We’re about a week away from the Jones Cup and around a month or so from the SEA Games. With the lineups ready for Gilas Pilipinas, we play know-it-all and try to predict a few things.
MOST LIKELY TO LEAD TEAM IN SCORING
SEA Games: Baser Amer
Amer has really stepped his game up. We all saw that in the Commissioner’s Cup. From being a pass-first point guard back in San Beda, Amer has added a new dimension to his arsenal. He has become one of the best scoring PGs in the PBA. Did you see that move in the semis where he made Jayson Castro dance? Damn, that was nasty. Amer has been a part of the national team for a while and his role will be bigger in this young squad.
Jones Cup: Matthew Wright
When Matthew Wright entered the PBA, some people think he wouldn’t be able to bring the same game he showed in the ABL. But he did. Wright showed he could be just as effective by becoming the focal point of the Phoenix offense. And when he suited up for Gilas in the SEABA Championship, he just continued to prove that he was put on this earth to knock down three-pointers. And the best thing about Wright is that he’s more than just a shooter. When he wants to, he also has the ability to penetrate and slice the defense.
MOST LIKELY TO BAG HIGHLIGHT OF THE TOURNAMENT
SEA Games & Jones Cup: Kobe Paras
We all know what the kid can do. He throws down windmill dunks in practice like it’s the easiest thing to do. Paras can and will probably have a highlight dunk at least once in each tournament. And if he doesn’t, I’ll settle for that wicked behind-the-back he brought out in the FIBA 3×3 World Championship. If he manages to do both in one play, then he’ll be the best Kobe to ever play the game. Okay, relax, I’m just kidding.
MOST LIKELY TO HIT GAME-WINNER
SEA Games & Jones Cup: Kiefer Ravena
Book it. If and when Gilas find themselves in need of a big bucket, the ball will find its way to Ravena. He thrives in those situations. Whether its him taking the shot, or just setting his teammate up for an open look, you can count on The Phenom. He’ll probably want to put it up though. And, well, he might be our best bet on those teams.
MOST LIKELY TO BE THE DIFFERENCE-MAKER
SEA Games: Ray Parks
It took a while before Parks was included in the Gilas pool. But it’s all worth it. He remains to be one of the top three local players who aren’t in the PBA yet. It would have been a shame for him to be excluded from both line-ups. Parks’ game has grown incredibly after stints in the NBA D-League, the ABL and Gilas. As he once again puts on the country’s colors with a younger squad, expect him to stand out.
Jones Cup: Jio Jalalon
When Gilas played in the recent SEABA, Coach Chot Reyes called Jio Jalalon his MVP for that tournament. The pesky guard was smothering every ball handler. And while the Jones Cup imposes a much higher level of competition, Jalalon should be just as irritable for other teams. He’s so great at pestering opponents without having to use physicality. It’s a gift. In the Jones Cup, it’s possible that Gilas goes just as far as Jalalon’s defense will take them.
SEA Games & Jones Cup: Christian Standhardinger
It’s simple. We don’t know much about the guy yet. Sure, we saw him practice and play with Gilas a few times. We saw him score that game-winner against NLEX. But the guy has yet to prove anything on the international scene. We’re calling this team the future of Philippine basketball. We need to know how big a part of that future Standhardinger will be. Here is his chance to show us. And while we’re talking about him, let me just saw we really need a nickname for him. Suggestions, please!
Photo from FIBA.com