The PBA yesterday released the official list of players that will form the training pool for the third incarnation of Gilas Pilipinas. Shortly afterwards, the usual flurry of comments about who should be and who shouldn’t be on the list began hitting social media.
Now the league was quick to point out that there’s still the possibility that guys will still be added to the pool. Who knows? There might be a weird scenario where some PBA teams have a sudden change of heart and opt to release some players #ParaSaBayan. With that in mind, who’s on our B-Team?
Barring the usual restrictions regarding FIBA eligibility, who else can we ask to fight for the Philippines against the best in Asia? Think of this as a PG-rated and casual version of the Suicide Squad – a group of guys who, if unleashed by the powers that will be – could have a huge impact come the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.
(Note: Because LA Tenorio, June Mar Fajardo and Marc Pingris are included in the pool, they’re just not gonna play for various reasons, we’re not including them in this 12-man roster)
Here’s our wish list of other guys who deserve a Gilas Pilipinas call-up:
Paul Lee – Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 6’1″, Age 26
Paul Lee should be included on everyone’s Gilas wish list. This is as obvious as getting Jayson Castro into the national squad. He’s the type of leader that can will his entire team to be competitive and the type of guy who will do everything it takes to win. His clutch play in the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup means Lee’s number should be on the SBP’s speed dial while he can still play.
Mark Barroca – Star Hotshots, 5’10”, Age 29
Mark Barroca would be a nice backup for Lee. Remember when he would lead Tim Cone’s second unit during San Mig Coffee’s Grand Slam run? He was their conductor, making sure the entire team was skipping to the same beat. Now imagine him leading the second unit of Gilas. This can work, right?
Cyrus Baguio – Alaska Aces, 6’2”, Age 34
Baguio’s ability to space the floor or create his own shots is the reason he’s here in the lineup. He’s not going to be the focal point on this team, which makes him perfect for the microwave, off the bench offense, role. With guys like Dondon Hontiveros, Asi Taulava, and possibly Jimmy Alapag, in the pool, Baguio can still push guys, even if he doesn’t make the final cut.
Marcio Lassiter – San Miguel Beermen, 6’2”, Age 28
In this fantasy scenario, Marcio Lassiter would be another no-questions-asked-he-should-be-in-Gilas player. In international play, there’s a lot of talk about shooting, shooting, and more shooting. A guy who can shoot quickly, come off any screen, shoot off the dribble, and actually have the accuracy to hit those shots is huge plus for any team, even more for Team Philippines.
Jared Dillinger – Meralco Bolts, 6’5”, Age 31
A huge plus in Dillinger’s game is his ability to play the point-forward. Just in case Gilas wants to mix things up with their attack, Dillinger as a playmaker can give them a different edge. Not only can he run the point, at the same time, he can get in the paint and rough it up with the big guys. Because of the Philippines’ height problem, his nose for the ball is what will get him his playing time.
Jeff Chan – Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 6’3”, Age 31
This is the only time we can imagine Marcio Lassiter and Jeff Chan on the same team with Paul Lee dishing the ball to them. It’s like having Green Arrow and Hawkeye in an Avengers-Justice League crossover event fighting giants from outer space. Either one of these guys can torch the net on any given night. Having the both of them fighting for Gilas would be beyond awesome.
Larry Fonacier – Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, 6’4”, Age 33
Fonacier isn’t just here to be a three-point sniper, but he’s in the pool also for his veteran leadership and defense. Lassiter and Chan can run around the court trying to get open while Larry can focus on defense. He’s known for his shooting, true, but he’s also an in-your-face defensive player who also has the basketball IQ to back up his play.
Vic Manuel – Alaska Aces, 6’5″, Age 28
Vic Manuel for Gilas? Why not! If I’m a coach, I need a workhorse, a hustle guy, a no-BS type of player who’ll get me the ball whenever my team needs it. In short, I need Vic Manuel. I don’t have to design plays for him, nor do I have to babysit him on what to do. With all the shooters and playmakers on this team, I’ll simply have to ask Manuel to get the damn ball for them.
Arwind Santos – San Miguel Beermen, 6’4”, Age 34
As I wrote before in the All-SMC Gilas team, Arwind Santos playing for the national team at this point in his career makes perfect sense. He doesn’t the ball in his hands to be effective and he doesn’t need offense run for him to be a leader. For this particular fantasy team, I can imagine him and Fonacier playing sticky defense on opposing teams.
(PS – Can Arwind compose another song if he gets into the Gilas team?)
Raymond Almazan – Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 6’9”, Age 26
At 6’9”, Almazan doesn’t really strike you as a guy who will win the battle of the boards against the behemoths of Asia. Skills-wise, he hasn’t even ripened his moves yet. What I’m going for here is his quickness and effort. He can be a good complementary player if the Philippines decides to play small and fast.
Ian Sangalang – Star Hotshots, 6’7”, Age 23
This team doesn’t have a lot of height and will most likely get murdered on the boards. With the addition of a guy like Sangalang, the Philippines can at least have a chance to be competitive in the rebounding department. By September, it’ll be almost a year since Sangalang’s ACL-MCL injury. If he wanted, I believe Sangalang could have even played in the latter part of the 2015 Governor’s Cup. His youth and strong fundamentals makes him a good addition despite his inexperience in international play.
Japeth Aguilar – Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 6’9”, Age 28
Since we’re going for athleticism, hustle, quickness, and not particularly a whole lot of height in this roster, we have to add Japeth Aguilar. We’ve all seen him play in the FIBA Asia Championship and the FIBA World Championship. He can commit a boneheaded play every now and then, but he can also have those one or two dunks that make us go wild.
Let’s get Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid, and let him heal Aguilar’s broken finger, come on let’s do it!
Here’s a recap of the line-up:
PG – Paul Lee / Mark Barroca
SG – Marcio Lassiter / Cyrus Baguio
SF – Jeff Chan / Larry Fonacier / Jared Dillinger
PF – Arwind Santos / Vic Manuel
C – Raymond Almazan / Ian Sangalang / Japeth Aguilar
This Gilas Pilipinas team can play high-octane offense and unleash a barrage of three-pointers every time they go down the court. With slashers like Lee and Barroca that can get into the paint, they can either lay it in or kick out to any of the shooters. This roster can even go with four-out, one-in. For instance, a combination of Lee – Lassiter – Chan – Santos – Aguilar could be running on the break or spacing the floor in half-court sets. In terms of protecting the rim and rebounding, this team can get their asses kicked, but if they put up shots quickly and get more possessions, this team just might work.