Gilas Diaries: Adding Weapons
MANILA, Philippines -- The past few weeks have brought about a couple of burning issues affecting the Gilas program that need immediate attention and dissection. Read on.
Given how many players have taken their share of the spotlight this past conference, it’s little surprise that fans are clamoring for Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes to consider adding players to the relatively modest national pool.
* Most of the other national pools in FIBA Asia have at least 20 players listed. Jordan's current pool has 20 (with a new naturalized player in the pipeline), ditto with Japan, while South Korea and China each has 24. Iran, I believe, has close to 30!
* The Gilas pool, which started with 17 players, has dwindled to 15 mainly because of the injuries of Kelly Williams and Jared Dillinger. Alaska's Sonny Thoss has been present in practices, but he hasn't participated and he will miss the Lithuania training camp to boot. And if reports are true, he has been ruled out of the FIBA Asia due to team commitments.
* Several PBA players did well in the PBA Selection's exhibition games against Gilas and the Shanghai Sharks, while some have accounted for themselves really well in the recent Commissioner's Cup playoffs. In particular, KG Canaleta, Arwind Santos, Calvin Abueva and JVee Casio have shone brightly.
* Marcus Douthit is now 33 years old. This may well be his last tour of duty in the FIBA Asia tournament. Given his age and the expected wear and tear, it's not a stretch if he gets a new injury as Gilas prepares for the Big Dance. I feel it prudent for the team to lobby for a backup naturalized player. Some strong candidates could be Denzel Bowles, Mike Dunigan or even Eric Dawson.
The big question, of course, is this – will adding players help or hinder, especially given the fact that Gilas already has a cadet pool in place?
Now, despite the depth of that set of players, the truth is a lot of other guys who are good enough to be in the national pool aren’t there, especially once-a-generation talents like Kiefer Ravena and Ray Parks, or future bigs like Isaac Holstein, Ian Sangalang, and even Raymond Almazan.
My take is even if these guys have no shot of making the final cut, at least bringing them to practices or scrimmages will help them improve and be exposed to the international brand of play. This is the reason many of the top teams in the continent like Iran, China, and South Korea have at least a sprinkling of really young talent in their own pools.
Right off the bat, Iran has Behnam Yakhchali and Mohammad Jamshidi, China has Wang Zhelin and Guo Ailun, while SoKor has Lee Jong-Hyun and Kim Jong-Kyu (and a LOT MORE!) – all of whom are relatively new in their countries’ respective pro leagues or still playing in college.
The strange thing is we actually have a similar system in place. It’s just that the local leagues have never really gotten together to make the necessary sweeping changes that will greatly benefit the national pool.
The sad thing here in Manila is that FIBA Asia is NOT the biggest basketball draw in the calendar. For a lot of people, it’s either the collegiate wars or the PBA. I hope our hosting of the FIBA Asia this August will greatly change that.
#parasabayan - Rappler.com
Enzo Flojo is one of the closest followers of the Philippine National Basketball Team. He is a self-proclaimed Asian Basketball hoop nut, and he doubts if anyone knows as much as he does about the best players in this corner of the world. He maintains a nationally-recognized basketball blog (HoopNut.com), and he hopes you can pester him on Twitter -- @hoopnut.