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Aug 28, 2015
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Putting together Gilas 3.0 has been as smooth-sailing as EDSA traffic during rush hour on a Monday. It’s been tumultuous particularly because the country’s top cagers have been difficult to recruit, no thanks to the ruthless business side of Philippine basketball. The Lakers’ hotshot guard Jordan Clarkson, however, has expressed willingness to suit up for the national team so that's a bit of a positive right there.

Nevertheless, when game-time comes, we’ll give our all-out support to the national team regardless of who did or didn’t make the final roster. But in the meantime, to gain a better understanding of the squad’s current makeup, a roundup of the biggest and most relevant stories (so far) concerning Gilas 3.0 is necessary.

We took it upon ourselves to do the obligatory compilation (yeah, we love you guys!) and here’s what we’ve got, so far:


TAB BALDWIN NAMED AS GILAS HEAD COACH

When Chot Reyes stepped down as the Gilas Pilipinas headmaster, we were all eager to find who’ll be tabbed as the flamboyant coach’s replacement. Last December, the answer came in the form of veteran international tactician, Tab Baldwin.  With relatively successful national coaching stints in Malaysia, Lebanon, Jordan, and his native country New Zealand, Baldwin’s résumé seems good enough for us not to feel sketchy.

gilas 3 newsImage via Spin.ph

Plus, he’s already spent meaningful time with our boys, being a consultant for Talk 'N Text in the PBA and for the previous Gilas team as well. But if the Philippines’ best ballers can’t suit up, Tito Tab will certainly have an uphill climb.


THE ANDRAY BLATCHE DILEMMA

Eariler this month, Andray Blatche, fresh from playing in the Chinese Basketball League, rejoined Gilas in preparation for the upcoming FIBA Asia Championship. Seeing Dray back enthusiastic to play for Team Philippines, was fantastic. But seeing him out of shape isn’t. We suspect some members of Team China may have been secretly mailing Blatche piles and piles of buffet vouchers.

gilas 3 newsImage via Spin.ph

With the added pounds, just a week into practice, the former NBA mainstay strained his groin and abdominal muscle. He hasn’t played great ever since. With the contest starting on September 23, Blatche practically has a month and half to regather himself. Man, if he can’t get his act together, all the pressure will possibly rest on guys like Moala Tautuaa and the man who discovered the fountain of yeath, 42-year-old Asi Taulava.

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L.A. TENORIO WITHDRAWS FROM GILAS 3.0

gilas 3 newsImage via Spin.ph

Another serviceable player whom Tab Baldwin won’t have the luxury to use is Gilas vet Lewis Alfred Tenorio. According to the Ginebra floor general, he’s a player too drained, due to his PBA duty as well as his past appearances in the national team, to be of any help to Gilas 3.0. "One factor that came out is 'yung dire-diretso 'yung paglalaro ko. Yung fatigue factor, hindi na rin naman ako bumabata," said the 31-year-old

"Kung tingin ko hindi na ako magiging effective, bakit ko naman ipipilit pa ang sarili ko. Magsa-sacrifice naman ang buong team 'di ba?" Tenorio added. His reasons may seem legit but a man of his talents will always be useful for the team.


GINEBRA TWIN TOWERS DOWN AND OUT

gilas 3 newsImage via Spin.ph

Japeth Aguilar, an experienced national player who’s also the country’s most athletic big, and Greg Slaughter, a formidable seven-foot body, will not be donning our flags colors. We won’t be seeing any thunderous slams from the Aguilar dunk factory any time soon because of a bent pinky that requires surgery. As for Gregzilla, an unfortunate ankle injury is his ticket way out to blame for his absence in the Gilas pool. Those are two huge names crossed out. Let’s all hope Tab Baldwin’s new recruits could make up for the crumbling Ginebra twin towers.


NO KRAKEN FOR GILAS 3.0

gilas 3 newsImage via Spin.ph

The two-time PBA MVP first expressed concern on the possibility of not joining Gilas last July, right after SMB won the PBA Governors' Cup. He cited a foot condition called plantar fasciitis which has been causing him a lot of pain, necessitating him to take a long break. A month later, Fajardo obliterated all hopes of Gilas 3.0 having the towering pivot on its roster by stating that he doesn’t have enough time to get back in basketball shape and gel with the team.

"Sobrang behind na ako sa practice sa Gilas uy. Naporma na ang team. Tapos ilang weeks na rin ako di naglalaro so kailangan ko pa talaga magpa-kundisyon ulit," Fajardo told Spin.ph.

He is the Philippine’s best big man and he is at his prime. It's truly a pity that the 6'11'' Fajardo won’t be providing the muscle our national squad badly needs.


YOUNG BIGS BEEF UP GILAS FRONTCOURT

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gilas 3 newsImage via Spin.ph

With Aguilar, Fajardo, and Slaughter out, a couple of promising young big men are poised to shine for Gilas. Moala Tautuaa and Troy Rosario, the first and second picks of the 2015 PBA Draft respectively, are undoubtedly great additions to Gilas 3.0. With Tab Baldwin hard-pressed on getting the nation’s best ballers to play for him, The two highly talented big men’s commitment to the national team definitely relieves the new Gilas coach a great deal of pressure.


TERRENCE AND CALVIN LIGHTS UP FOR GILAS

gilas 3 newsImage via Spin.ph

With the likes Marcio Lassiter and Paul Lee unlikely to make the official roster, Coach Tab Baldwin will have to turn to his new bets Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva to deliver the fireworks on both ends of the floor. So far, Globalport’s streaky shooter and "The Beast" have been impressive. Thankfully, the immense talent they possess is matched by their passion to make the national squad, evident in their play at the Estonia tune-up games (more on this in a bit).

"I like him. I think Terrence’s X-Factors and qualities, he’s one of the most competitive guys we got here in the environment," said Baldwin of Romeo. "No doubt he had to take over games. He has the ability to do that."

On Abueva, Baldwin was also full of admiration:

"He’s a great kid, I really enjoy him having in the camp. And so far, he has done a tremendous job. His work ethic is excellent and his attitude has been outstanding."


GILAS GROUPED IN "LIGHT" BRACKET

During the preliminary stage of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, Team Philippines will be in Group B, facing Kuwait (ranked 70th), Palestine (unranked), and either Hong Kong (69th) or Mongolia (unranked). The bracketing is indeed favorable and a welcome development for Gilas 3.0 and its fans.

gilas 3 newsImage via Spin.ph

But if you’ve watched enough basketball in your life, you'll know that Coach Baldwin and his charges won't take any game for granted. These seemingly easy competitions might turn out to be booby traps that result in major upsets, so it’s a must for Team Philippines to bring its A-Game every single outing.


EVERGREEN ASI TAULAVA MAKES IT TO GILAS POOL

As much as we don’t like 42-year olds playing for our national squad as we’re bound to compete against the best and fastest teams in Asia, we’ve got to make an exception this time. We give Manong Asi a pass because he’s the biggest basketball player (aside from Dray) we’re left with after June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter, who both ruled themselves out of the Gilas pool due to injuries.

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gilas 3 newsImage via Spin.ph

And after all, "The Rock" has continued to play solidly in the PBA despite his advanced age. As a member of the NLEX Road Warriors, the former MVP has been terrific, tallying laudable averages of 13.8 ppg. and 9.9 rpg last season. You don't expect 40-year-olds norming stats like those in any pro hoops league.


CAPTAIN JIMMY COMES OUT OF RETIREMENT

gilas 3 newsImage via Spin.ph

Jimmy Alapag is back in Gilas uniform, dribbling around defenders, dishing out assists and draining threes. Upon his retirement, Alapag was keen on mentioning that he had to leave the game in order for the next crop of national players to grow. But recently, it seems like Gilas needs Philippine Basketball’s Mighty Mouse more than ever. With his tremendous desire to help Gilas Pilipinas eating him, Captain Jimmy obliged. The question now is, does he have enough left in the tank to still be the heroic Jimmy Alapag whom we’ve grown to love?


MARK PINGRIS GOES BACK AND FORTH

First, Ping said he’s forced to pull out from Gilas.

 "Mahal ko 'yung Gilas, kaso may mga bagay na 'di natin control."

Four days later, the Gilas stalwart had a change of heart.

"I am grateful for management’s support and if the Philippine team still needs me, I promise to go all out for the country in the Fiba-Asia Championship as it aims to gain a slot in the Rio Olympics next year."

gilas 3 newsImage via Spin.ph

Pingris, going back and forth with his word is irritatingly confusing. Nevertheless, the important thing is, the hardworking forward is once again available to bring his trademark all-out "Sakuragi" hustle approach to Gilas 3.0. Let's just hope the rumor that Purefoods has Ping on the trading block doesn’t distract the Philippine team stalwart from dealing with the task at hand.


GILAS WINLESS IN ESTONIA POCKET TOURNEY

Gilas 3.0’s main goal in joining the pocket tournament in Estonia was to gain valuable experience playing with each other while facing tough foreign opposition. The team did just that but it would’ve also been nice to see them bag a win or two. The new-look Gilas squad showed little fluidity in their movement at the Toyota Four Nations Cup, where the Philippine contingent went 0-3.


Video via PTV

The first game saw our boys suffer a 27-point drubbing at the hands of Team Netherlands, 89-62. The next two contests were ten-point losses against Estonia and Iceland, 90-80 and 86-76 respectively. But, hey, don’t feel too sad. Gilas 3.0 still has the Jones Cup tournament to compete in on their next stop, wherein if they play well enough, they could gain the right amount of confidence not only for themselves but for the whole country, too.

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GILAS' 24-MAN POOL ANNOUNCED

gilas 3 newsImage via Spin.ph

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has unveiled their official 24-man pool for the fast-approaching FIBA event, which will be held in Changsha, China. The list boasts of star-studded names, which includes the ones that have already been considered as full-fledged Gilas truants. With high-profile players, led by Jordan Clarkson, Andray Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, Bobby Ray Parks, Marcio Lassiter, and Jimmy Alapag, completing the listplus if each and every one of them are genuinely ready to play for Team PhilippinesCoach Tab Baldwin must be seeing gold medals right now.

P.S. Can you imagine a Clarkson-Blatche tandem suiting up for Team Philippines? If those guys pair up seamlessly, they can really become the Kobe-Shaq duo of Asia.


IS JORDAN CLARKSON REALLY GOING TO PLAY FOR GILAS?

A tweet, posted a year ago, by Chot Reyes himself, told "tweeps" that the NBA All-Rookie Team member isn’t eligible to play for Gilas. However, the SBP has recently gone on record to confirm that Fil-Am LA Lakers star Jordan Clarkson has been a holder of a Philippine passport since age 12, thus qualifying him to represent the country in international basketball tourneys.

gilas 3 newsImage via Spin.ph

Also, while Clarkson has expressed his desire to play, his father, Mike Clarkson, said this: "As you know in professional sports, timing is of the essence especially when managing a player's career. Unfortunately, the timing couldn't be worse as he prepares for rigors of the upcoming 2015-2016 NBA season� and heightened performance expectations."

Then Clarkson issued his statement regarding the matter, which boosted our hopes once again:

Official Statement of Mr. Jordan Clarkson

Posted by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas - SBP on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

We don't know for sure if the Laker guard will be part of Gilas 3.0 anytime soon, but we're keeping our fingers (and toes) crossed. Abangan and susunod na kabanata!


The long, rough road Gilas 3.0 is treading to get to this year’s FIBA Asia Championship isn’t necessarily bad omen. For all we know, it might serve as prelude to the unlikeliest of victories, giving the players and us fans a euphoric experience we couldn’t have imagined. Whatever happens though, come September 23, we’ll surely be shouting, Laban Pilipinas! #PUSO

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