CONSIDERING what it needs to accomplish in the upcoming Southeast Asian Basketball (SEABA) Men’s Championship and the kind of competition it is about to take, Gilas Pilipinas had to come up with a team that can get the job done, something it was able to do with the players it named to the squad recently, one analyst said.
In an announcement made at the conclusion of the second caravan of the three-leg 2017 Philippine Basketball Association All-Star Game festivities in Lucena, Quezon last Friday, national coach Chot Reyes and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Inc. (SBP) revealed the players comprising the PBA-backed “SEABA 12,” which will see action in the regional basketball tournament happening here in Manila from May 12 to 18.
Named to the team were Calvin Abueva (Alaska), Japeth Aguilar (Barangay Ginebra), Raymond Almazan (Rain or Shine), Jio Jalalon and Allein Maliksi (Star), Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario and Jayson Castro (TNT), June Mar Fajardo (San Miguel), Terrence Romeo (GlobalPort), Matthew Wright (Phoenix Petroleum) and naturalized player Andray Blatche.
The mission order of the team is to win in the SEABA tournament, which will take place at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, to be able to represent the Southeast Asia sub-zone at the FIBA Asia Cup in August in Beirut, Lebanon.
The Asia Cup will determine the composition of the joint FIBA Asia and FIBA Oceania qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
For basketball analyst Levi Verora, Jr., the SEABA 12 named by Mr. Reyes is as “fit” a team as it can get.
“There are no surprises in the team. I think the team is perfect for SEABA. It’s fit to go, deep and very talented,” said the analyst when asked by BusinessWorld for his thoughts on the Gilas team competing in two weeks’ time.
“The players are the kind who can flourish in Gilas’ dribble drive system. They are high basketball IQ players and are very flexible and can play multiple positions,” added Mr. Verora, who covers the Southeast Asian basketball scene with the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).
He went on to say that offensively the team may not have much of a problem but needs to work on its defense, both individually and as a group, to make its attack on an even keel.
CASTRO AND FAJARDO
Mr. Verora pointed to TNT guard Castro as one key player for Gilas in the SEABA jousts.
“Jayson Castro has been hailed as the best point guard in Asia and the competition will face a player like him for the first time and has to adjust accordingly,” he said.
The analyst also added three-time PBA most valuable player Fajardo as another Gilas player that may be a difference for his size and agility.
But while some pundits and observers view the Gilas SEABA 12 as “overkill,” Mr. Verora believes otherwise.
“For us to keep our label as kings of basketball in the region, we have to send our best. And besides, the level of play of other Southeast Asian teams has risen in the last couple of years. They are able to gain traction with the ABL and other domestic leagues where they get to play with American imports and hone their skills,” said Mr. Verora, who named Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia as teams that will be competitive and challenge the Philippines.