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Making The Gilas Cut: The Bigs And Outliers Of '23 For 23'
The second part of our national team deliberation for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup
by Louie Claudio | Jan 10, 2018
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The problem with deliberating on a roster six years ahead of its effectivity date is that we will be forced to judge these players on their successes now rather than later. This is why a handful of players are picked based on their much publicized college pedigree rather than their professional turnout and potential for growth. For every Robert Bolick and Thirdy Ravena that will be bandied about, we run the risk of missing out on the next Vic Manuel, Carl Bryan Cruz, and Jeff Chan. But hey, that won’t stop us from trying.


BIGS

Kai Sotto | 7’2” | 16 Years | Ateneo

Fans need to be cautiously optimistic regarding the young center—he’s by far the tallest prospect we’ve ever had for Gilas (even including Andray Blatche, assuming the 7’2” isn’t generously inflated); but watching his limited minutes on TV it’s clear he’s still struggling with the weight of his own body—he’s slow, floor-bound, and perhaps worst of all, moves with the skillset of a traditional post-up center, which in today’s international game almost requires elite-level rebounding and defense to compensate for the absence of playmaking and the occasional jumper—and that facet of his game is still well under construction. He will need to improve his body in order to stay afloat against mature competition. These criticisms won’t really matter in his selection though—at that height he is still the best chance at the 5.

Chances: 90%| Potential Impact: A-

Isaac Go | 6’8” | 21 Years | Ateneo

Mr. Clutch was never an elite prospect, even in college. But his recent stardom in the UAAP coupled with a newfound work ethic forcibly hammered by Coach Tab Baldwin has made the quiet giant an interesting prospect. Go can shoot from long-range rather efficiently (35% career UAAP), although he lacks the athleticism and rebounding to make him a sure-fire candidate for Gilas. Go will have to learn how to play dirty in the PBA, or run the risk of being the next “soft” basketball player to lose out on a pro career. Still, who doesn’t want the next Ranidel de Ocampo?

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Chances: 50%| Potential Impact: B-

Abu Tratter | 6’7” | 24 Years | La Salle

Tratter has found a way to contribute to the Archers’ mayhem offense by constantly moving and being pesky on defense, but has shown no notable skills on offense other than an occasional undergoal stab and burst of athleticism. He rebounds decently, but did so mostly against noticeably smaller forwards. Chances of a limited offensive and defensive talent on the international scene are slim.

Chances: 5%| Potential Impact: D

AJ Edu | 6’11” | 18 Years | Llandovery College UK

If his Philippine passport pans out properly, Fil-Nigerian AJ Edu has the potential to make the largest impact among all names in this list, perhaps even among every center we’ve ever had other than the ones that used to play in the NBA. Unlike Kai Sotto, Edu has the mobility, footwork, and shooting to power past similar-sized centers, and has enough juice to finish above the rim—reminiscent of a smaller Joel Embiid. He will easily be the most dynamic center (or PF) in Gilas history, and should form a mean tandem with the more post-worthy Kai Sotto—but it will depend on his commitment he can give and national support he can get.

Chances: 60% | Potential Impact: A

Carl Tamayo | 6’7” | 16 Years | NU

Carl has a promising set of skills, but has one worrying facet to his game: he usually shoots on set plays. If he can become highly efficient in doing so then well and good. However, a center that can only do one or two good things may not find a place in the Gilas roster. Still, he’s tall and very young at 16 and will get to develop a more competitive feel for the game.

Chances: 10% | Potential Impact: C+

Kenmark Carino | 6’9” | 19 Years | San Beda

Kenmark’s lanky frame and propensity for blocks remind us of another defensive-minded veteran: Raymond Almazan, who had himself a decent run with Gilas. He could be a great asset by providing a solid defensive foundation—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The guy is just 16 and has barely played significant minutes for the NCAA. If he can find a reliable means of scoring while keeping up with our defensive expectations, we might be in for a sleeper favorite.

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Chances: 25% | Potential Impact: B-

Will Gozum | 6’6” | 18 Years | Mapua

Every team needs a guy to do their dirty work, and Will can provide the rebounds and hustle plays that Gilas once squeezed out from Carl Bryan Cruz. Both have a knack of using their body to their advantage, but with one key difference: CBC fully embraced the three-point shot that made him a contributor on both ends of the floor. If Gozum can adopt this style of play, it can open up a lot more plays without sacrificing on defense. However, at 6’6” he stands shorter than your typical forward, which may hurt his chances.

Chances: 15%| Potential Impact: B

Troy Rike | 6’8” | 21 Years | Wake Forest

Troy Rike plays eerily similar to another Troy we’ve already seen from Gilas. Much like his namesake, the guy can shoot from beyond the arc and can muscle in for some occasional post-up fades and inside stabs—at this point it’s fair to say that the better Troy 6 years from now should get the invite. Otherwise, there’s really nothing in his 3.0 mpg career in Wake Forest to draw from yet.

Chances: 15%| Potential Impact: B-

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THE OUTLIERS

Ricci Rivero | 6’2” | 19 Years | De La Salle

Basketball has changed in the Philippines—the PBA is no longer the highest level of competition that local players can strive to attain; the FIBA tournaments have opened the doors for young talents to aspire for National pride and contention—and this is evident in the fact that Ricci Rivero has been sneaking into Gilas practices just to try to secure a tryout despite being against his mother school’s wishes—and really, he should. Ricci is an incredible talent—perhaps the best finisher in the country today, and has been living in the shadow of Ben Mbala for his first two years in college. With a great shot, good rebounding, and athleticism to keep up with bigger guards, he can certainly become the Swiss knife for Gilas like Matt Ganuelas. Your move, DLSU.

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Chances: 30% | Potential Impact: B+

Art dela Cruz | 6’4” | 25 Years | Ginebra Gin Kings

It’s a shame Arthur dela Cruz had to go down in another devastating Achilles injury. He was a strange beast, sort of like a mix between Ian Sanggalang and Shawn Marion—he was a master of angles and is not afraid to show off his truly dumbfounding shooting forms and floaters to maximize his chances of making a shot—all the while making even the most effective defenders hesitate due to his unorthodox timing and pulse. Art would make great offensive option for Gilas—if he ever returns to his original form.

Chances: 5% | Potential Impact: B

Jasper Parker| 5’10” |23 Years | FEU

Jasper Parker was a sleeper star in the UAAP; he was top five in assists (4.7 apg) with Jerie Pingoy and Jjay Alejandro; but he shot a blistering 40% from the three, by far the best among the four other players (Pingoy was closest at 29%). Despite not being a household name yet, Parker has a great combination of skills that can help make the difference considering most guards in the 23 man pool are scorers rather than facilitators. Parker can become the glue to this dynamic scoring team.

Chances: 5% | Potential Impact: B+

Mac Tallo | 5’11” | 22 Years | TNT

Mac Tallo has been flying under the rader in the CESAFI and D-Leagues, but has always proven that he can score and distribute like the rest of them. If Tallo proves he belongs to the TNT roster, he can finally get some PBA burn and perhaps even give Jayson Castro the rest he deserves.

Chances: 3% | Potential Impact: B

Jeron Teng | 6’2” | 24 Years | Alaska

Jeron Teng has been generating some buzz from his 16-point debut performance with Alaska. He has a pro-ready body (and has since 2nd year college) and can contribute; but for him to maximize his drives and foul-baiting under the basket he needs to make his perimeter game more consistent, else risk becoming a limited player like Tony Allen.

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Chances: 10% | Potential Impact: B-

 

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