The 12 names on the final lineup for the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup (August 8 to 20, in Lebanon) have been revealed.
Just like in previous announcements, there were a few snubs and suprises. Andray Blatche will not be joining the team due to undisclosed reasons, while Allein Maliksi was the casualty of the PBA's one-per-team policy. Newcomers like Jio Jalalon and Carl Bryan Cruz will have a lot to prove in the qualifying tournament.
Still, coach Chot Reyes put up quite the formidable squad, headed by Jayson Castro and June Mar Fajardo. Upon further analysis, every player chosen to represent the country has something to bring to the table.
G - Jayson Castro (experience)
What more could you ask for from the best point guard in Asia? More than his all-around play, The Blur will be able to provide leadership.
G - Jio Jalalon (energy)
We seriously thought Kiefer Ravena would make the cut as Castro's backup, but The Cyclone proved he can hold his own against international competition.
G - Terrence Romeo (scoring)
The spitfire combo guard has the luxury of being able to play with the other members of the Gilas backcourt. Defender pro tip: better tape those ankles.
G - RR Pogoy (versatility)
Solid on both ends of the floor? That's the super rookie for you. To describe Pogoy's growth as staggering would be an understatement.
F - Matthew Wright (shooting)
Of course, the team's leading scorer—14 ppg, 9th overall—in the Jones Cup was a shoo-in for the big stage. Unsuspecting defenses are in for a shock.
G/F - Calvin Abueva (hustle)
The Beast finally gets his due after being snubbed during the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. His heart was sorely missed by Gilas.
G/F - Gabe Norwood (defense)
Mr. President may be the eldest statesman among this young stalwarts, but don't be suprised if, out of nowhere, he puts a rival player on a poster.
F - Japeth Aguilar (length)
The lanky forward has proven himself valuable against foreign counterparts. We can only hope for more development from Aguilar in the tournament.
F - Carl Bryan Cruz (stretch)
Seeing the sweet-shooting big man in the lineup over the more heralded cadets says a lot about his abilities. Let's see if his Jones Cup showing was no fluke.
F/C - Christian Standhardinger (intensity)
He looks nothing like a native, but the Fil-German has represented the essence of Pinoy basketball. Standhardinger's toughness is the perfect fit.
C - June Mar Fajardo (size)
The reigning three-time PBA MVP is an automatic inclusion. Without Blatche, The Kraken will have his hands full as the man in the middle for Gilas.
C - Raymond Almazan (grit)
Almazan brings his consummate mix of skill and tenacity every time he is on the court. Expect him to rise to the challenge of taller opposition in the paint.