From here on out, we'll be seeing a completely different Gilas Pilipinas squad in FIBA tournaments and other major international basketball meets. The stalwarts we used to cheer for, led by longtime national bets Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, and Gabe Norwood, are out of the picture. That means, we'll have to rely on a new crop of talent to take our nation atop the global hoops scene.
The newly minted national basketball team, Gilas 5.0, is currently in Tehran, competing in the FIBA Asia Challenge, which will run until September 18. Its 12-man roster is comprised of players plucked from a 24-man pool that doesn't include a Team Puso holdover other than Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Bobby Ray Parks. The new kids on the block—mostly standouts from the amateur ranks not too long ago—will have huge shoes to fill. On the other hand, we think five of them are capable of showing up in the big stage just like their legendary predecessors. Who are they exactly? Meet our picks for the potential stars of Gilas 5.0:
The former main man of the UST Growling Tigers could be one of our best offensive weapons. Ferrer, listed as a forward, is out on the floor for his dangerous three-point shooting. When he gets in the zone, he can be unstoppable. Remember his unbelievable third quarter in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 78 Finals?
Insane, isn't it?
K-Fer's got good size for his playing style. A shooter with decent speed standing at 6'4", he has the wares to do well against taller defenders.
His mid-range shot is right up there, he's a superb open-court player, he's got post moves, he finishes strong inside, and he can make a killing from beyond the arc. To put it all together, RR is one versatile scorer. This may sound blasphemous, but take a look at the way the former Tamaraw struts his stuff and you'll see glimpses of the great James Yap.
See that? It's uncanny
That said, imagine a Big Game James clone designed for the international game. Expect Pogoy to come through for Gilas several times, especially during botched plays.
We can't stress enough how important the three-ball is in today's game. It has defined the way basketball is played in this era, so it's a must for the national team to be lethal from deep to break through to the next level. Pessumal, one of the premier collegiate shooters, can provide Gilas the firepower it needs from rainbow territory.
With Ferrer, the sweet-shooting guard out of Ateneo can be our own version of the Splash Brothers.
We don't think Belo will blow us away with spectacular numbers while suiting up for Gilas. But being a do-it-all guy on both ends will render him as a key contributor to the team on a regular basis. Mentally and physically, the FEU product is probably the most battle-ready player of the group.
The PBA D-League Aspirants Cup MVP will be there, personifying the toughness and consistency that this basketball-crazy nation wants to see from its nationals.
His transformation from a shoot-first point guard to a playmaker willing to create opportunities for teammates seems to be complete. Tolomia will be the lead floor general, whose main responsibility is to run plays amid elite defenses. If you think that's a lot on his plate already, he also has the unenviable task of picking up where Castro had left off.
That's a tasty triple-double right there
Nevertheless, judging from the way the young gun has been playing recently, it looks like he’s not backing down from the challenge. And soon enough, if that holds true, he might just become the darling of Gilas 5.0.
Let's all wish these five hotshots and the rest of their teammates a lot of luck. We hoping that they all play out of their minds in Iran. Now altogether for the nth time, PUSO!
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