September 19, 2019
Building teams are always fun. This is why people are excited when the Philippines has a competition coming up. Armchair coaches and team managers make up rosters for the Gilas and argue on why this player should be included instead of that.
After the sad debacle in the FIBA World Cup, the Southeast Asian Games will be a good breather, and a probable confidence booster for the hoop lovers who have been attacked by the hordes of the newly established Philippine basketball critics’ bandwagon.
In the Southeast Asian Games, we are not constrained by FIBA rules on eligibility, specifically the Hagop rule, which is the bane of our basketball existence. Since our usual suspects have been tired out (ask Jayson Castro, June Mar Fajardo and Gabe Norwood), this is the time when we roll out the Fil-foreign players who have been wrongly disenfranchised.
Let us also not forget that the other Southeast Asian countries have vastly improved, thanks to the Asean Basketball League (ABL). Countries like Vietnam can field some of their “Viet-ams” as well. Indonesia has reportedly initiated the naturalization process for Denzel Bowles, the former PBA import who has won Best Import honors and multiple titles with B-Meg (now Magnolia) in the PBA.
We should not take our ASEAN neighbors lightly, or else, we would end up with another debacle before the year ends. Nevertheless, we don’t have to send our very best (read: All-PBA) team, and it’s likely we won’t have Andray Blatche or any other naturalized import for the meet.
Here are my suggested players for the SEA Games pool:
Chris Ross — The San Miguel Beer guard who has also won multiple Finals MVP should be a shoo-in in any iteration of Gilas. Since he is not eligible under FIBA rules, then by all means he should be the leader of the SEA Games team.
Ross is a proven clutch player, and he is wise and cunning on the court and all the young players will definitely learn much from him. What’s more, he has expressed interest in representing the flag. He has even attended Gilas practices just to help them out. He wants this, and no one is more deserving.
Stanley Pringle — Another world-class talent that we could not field on FIBA, a starting backcourt of Pringle and Ross can rival the actual Gilas backcourt. He has represented the Philippines before as the naturalized player, and he is one of the best at breaking down the opponents’ defense.
Christian Standhardinger — We would likely let June Mar sit this one out, so we should field in his substitute. Another proven world-class talent when he also played as a naturalized player in the FIBA Qualifiers during the suspensions, Standhardinger should now be the primary big man.
Moala Tautuaa — speaking of primary big man, Big Mo should now show his versatility in the SEA Games. Big enough to guard taller imports (like Denzel Bowles) but having a feathery touch and decent range, he and C-Stan could be our starting bigs.
Matthew Wright — Since Coach YengGuiao vouched for the players who didn’t make the FIBA World Cup cut, I think Wright deserves this slot. He was valiant enough to fight for an invite and really make an effort to make the team.
Beau Belga — also part of CYG’s endorsement, he brings toughness and veteran smarts — something we could pass on the new generation.
The next generation
Instead of sending an All-pro team, we could better serve the continuity of the basketball program by exposing some of our college players by including them in the pool.
I would leave out high school players (Kai Sotto, Carl Tamayo) for now, and AJ Edu will be right in the middle of the US College basketball season by that time. We have a lot of prime college players who should be considered.
I would vouch for Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, Kobe Paras, Justine Baltazar, Dave Ildefonso, Calvin Oftana, and Geo Ambohot, who have length and skill, and can gain the most from the experience.
More suggestions for the SEA Games pool? Email at email@example.com
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