From left to right, top to bottom rows: Asi Taulava, Ranidel de Ocampo, Sonny Thoss,
Andray Blatche, Gabe Norwood, Dondon Hontiveros, Marc Pingris, Calvin Abueva, Matt
Ganuelas-Rosser, Terrence Romeo, JC Intal, and Jayson Castro (Photo via Spin.ph)
Though a handful got disappointed upon learning that Fil-Am Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson didn't make the cut (along with Jimmy Alapag, Gary David, Aldrech Ramos, and Troy Rosario), you have to admit that the pool was still able to form a formidable national team.
Now with the final 12 players decided, it's all rigorous training and chemistry-building from this point forward for the Gilas delegation and coach Tab Baldwin. That includes a number of considerations on how to further improve the team's already impressive form, which was in full display in their silver-medal finish at the 37th William Jones Cup.
FHM comes up with a Gilas Pilipinas "to-do list" (because you know how much of basketball analysts we are here at the HQ):
1) KEEP SHOCKING THE WORLD, CALVIN
You must be ashamed of yourself if you were one of those who doubted how The Beast's game will translate in international play. Coming up bigger than his foreign counterparts and giving off the same intensity Calvin Abueva shows in the PBA, we might just have the new epitome of #PUSO basketball.
2) ANDRAY HAS TO PLAY BIG, AS IN BIG BIG
With the absence of Jun Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar, as well as the fact that Asi Taulava (42) and Sonny Thoss (33) aren't getting any younger, Andray Blatche may have to abandon his stretch-big-man play and focus more on operating in the post. Perhaps it's the reason why he bulked up a little—to get ready for a more inside-oriented game?
3) KEEP IT UP, JAYSON
There's a reason why Jayson Castro was included in the 2015 Jones Cup Mythical Five and is still considered as the best point guard in Asia. His numbers may not be that gaudy—13 pts, 3.8 ast, 3.4 reb—but being a stable (and clutch) floor general is more than enough for him to steer the team to victory.
4) RDO NEEDS TO CONTINUE TERRORIZING HIS MATCHUPS
Think Paul Pierce—who lures the defense into playing at his pace—in the body of a (magulang) power forward. And just like the Truth, the double-edged Ranidel de Ocampo can pretty much kill you in the post and murder you with his long bombs.
5) STAY READY, MGR
Essentially, Baldwin has the luxury of a Swiss Army knife in the person of Matt Ganuelas-Rosser. Need quick points? Length? Ball distribution? Somebody to hold off the other team's best player? You name it, MGR can (more or less) do it.
6) MANAGE DONDON'S MINUTES
A fresh Dondon Hontiveros, now at 38, is definitely a dangerous Dondon Hontiveros. But don't make the mistake of letting him get cold on the bench; a streaking Cebuano Hotshot is still the most dangerous of them all. Just ask New Zealand’s Wellington Saints...
7) JC WILL BE MOST EFFECTIVE IN SMALL-BALL LINEUPS
Reading the comment sections of news items about Gilas's final lineup indicates that JC Intal has the most to prove in the upcoming FIBA Asia Championship. Many may have shaken their heads with his inclusion, but judging from his recent Jones Cup stint, Intal is still a viable option if Baldwin decides to push the ball up the floor.
8) GABE NOW HAS TO PLAY ABOVE THE RING
With a more-than-capable point guard duo in Jayson and Terrence Romeo (and, to a certain extent, MGR), Gabe Norwood may need to bring back his Luis Scola international posterizing ways from last year's World Cup on a team obviously lacking in length.
9) GILAS NEEDS MORE FROM YOU, PING
Sure, Marc Pingris may have appeased turned-off fans with his sudden U-turn for the team. But it would take more than just participation for the original #PUSO basketball poster boy to revive the once-burning affinity between Pinoy Sakuragi and local hoops fans.
10) JUST LET TERRENCE DO HIS THING
Like Abueva, many deemed the addition of the isolation-heavy, shot-chucking Terrence Romeo to the initial Gilas pool as more hurtful than helpful to Baldwin's system. The result? Nico Salva's "bro" ending up as the team's most consistent scorer, Clarkson being a fanboy, and a love team that might give #AlDub a run for its money, #RomYu.
11) YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO, ASI
Being the squad's eldest statesman at 42, Asi Taulava pretty much knows the ins and outs of international play, and basically what his role is in this highly revamped roster. These days, he might not be the no. 1 option for a squad filled with young blood, but expect The Rock to provide everything needed of him, like being the consummate locker room presence and the stabilizing force in the middle.
12) SONNY THE BULLY
Sonny Thoss has transformed from being a docile center into one of the PBA's no-nonsense bigs. And with Gilas, the aptly nicknamed "The Boss" knows he doesn't need to concentrate on his stats but rather, just keep being the calm (as seen in their match against Russia) yet imposing presence on the court.