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Making The Gilas Cut: The Guards And Wings Of '23 For 23'

The training pool for the national team has been announced and we examine the odds of each player making the final roster
by Louie Claudio | Jan 9, 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.


Robert Bolick | 6’2” | 22 Years | San Beda College

The fiery Red Lion accounted very well for himself in the NCAA Finals with his clutch long-range shooting and in-your-face attitude. Averaging 21 ppg over two finals games, Bolick has proven that he doesn’t shy away from taking shots that count even when the team is behind, a unique quality Gilas used to have with point guard greats LA Tenorio and Jimmy Alapag at the helm. The defense is also welcome, and hopefully the do-what-it-takes attitude rubs off on everyone in the team. That being said, Bolick is primarily a scorer, and will have to improve his playmaking to create a bigger impact.

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Chances: 40% | Potential Impact: B

CJ Perez | 6’2” | 24 Years | Lyceum

CJ Perez is the closest to a lock for the Gilas program. The reigning NCAA MVP has elite size, skills, and natural athleticism to bring a modern and physical style to Gilas’ running game. Perez rebounds and passes well for a guard, but with the added benefit of improved shooting—which in today’s international game seems like a must. The key is improving his defense and ensuring that he maximizes his natural tools in gut-check games.

Chances: 90%| Potential Impact: A

Juan Gomez de Liano | 6’1” | 18 Years | UP

11.6 ppg doesn’t nearly give justice to Juan GDL’s incredible offensive talent—he’s long, mobile, and a lefty to boot. He has recently won the rookie of the year award and could very well be a more offensively diverse Roger Pogoy down the line. His fiery demeanor and a sneaky 6.2 rebounding rate is also encouraging. But like Bolick, he’s running for the 2 spot, which will be determined by who shoots efficiently and who can defend consistently; and this he will have to work on to truly stand out.

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Chances: 35%| Potential Impact: B

Remy Martin | 6’1” | 19 Years | Arizona State

Remy Martin may possibly be the point guard of the future, but right now he’s not playing much of it for Arizona. As the 3rd best passer for the Arizona State Sun Devils (2.6 apg), Martin may find the most minutes as a combo guard rather than a primary facilitator. Despite being known for his above average athleticism, Martin seems to be finding success with shooting (.505 fg% and .500 3p% in 26 mpg). The problem? We already have too many combo guards in this lineup—Martin will have to forego his YouTube highlights in favor of better playmaking.

Chances: 30%| Potential Impact: B+

Matt Nieto | 5’10” | 20 Years | Ateneo

Matthew Nieto’s sole calling card for the UAAP has been his efficient (yet somewhat streaky) shooting and irrational fearlessness. The former is perhaps the more measurable quality; the problem is if Nieto’s role is to shoot, then he is going to have to play the 2, and that means we would have a very undersized shooting guard for Gilas—he will have to be an incredible shooter akin to Matthew Wright if he intends to snag this spot.

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Chances: 20%| Potential Impact: B-

Paul Desiderio | 6’1” | 20 Years | UP

There is always room for a Gary David-style gunner for Gilas, and Paul Desiderio certainly fits the bill. He’s very similar to Nieto except he shoots with more volume at the expense of efficiency—leading to the suspicion that Desiderio’s stats may be inflated due to high usage. Desiderio can certainly score in spurts, but his defense and size remain suspect for international play.

Chances: 25%| Potential Impact: B-



Thirdy Ravena | 6’3” | 21 Years | Ateneo

Thirdy has all the physical tools to become a great contributor to Gilas. His athleticism, rebounding, and playmaking are above average and admirable to see in a young player; but he also lacks consistency in one key fundamental skill: shooting. For Thirdy to mesh with a run-and-gun Gilas team he needs to start making threes at a consistent rate, otherwise he might end up being another iso-heavy whirling dervish like Calvin Abueva. But overall, his intangibles and double-double potential at the 3 spot speak for themselves.

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Chances: 50%| Potential Impact: B+

Jjay Alejandro | 6’2” | 22 Years | NU

Jayjay has proven that he can tough it out with the more celebrated names in the UAAP, and can lead a team almost single-handedly while doing so. But despite dominating the scoreboard it was his league-leading 6.7 apg that was most impressive—and that might just be his ticket to the roster. If it wasn’t obvious at the start, this list lacks elite playmakers—if he could balance his scoring and playmaking properly, and if he warms up to more talented teammates, the sky’s the limit for him.

Chances: 40%| Potential Impact: B+

Ken Tuffin | 6’4” | 20 Years | FEU

Ken Tuffin is in a very tough spot: there are too many springy and long 6’4” players with good defense and an underdeveloped offensive game in this pool—a more dynamic and more talented Ricci Rivero can easily replace him unless he develops a clear, discernible advantage in the coming years.

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Chances: 5% | Potential Impact: D

Jeo Ambohot | 6’6” | 21 Years | Letran

Jeo Ambohot’s height and talents in blocking may lead one to think he should play big; but the development of his long-range game suddenly opens up the possibility of having a good 3-and-D player similar to Gabe Norwood; but Ambohot will need to work on his lateral movement and quickness if he aims to defend the most dynamic small forwards in the world.

Chances: 30% | Potential Impact: B

Kobe Paras | 6’6” | 20 Years | U.S.A.

Perhaps the most entertaining and watchable guy in the pool, Kobe Paras is bound to be met with skepticism over his basketball persona. Reckless, flamboyant, and overeager, Kobe’s dunks and jaw-dropping drives are normally negated with dumb turnovers and wasted plays; as a younger player this may still be excusable, but he’s quickly reaching that point where he has to find consistency to find a future in basketball—and after his UCLA and Creighton exits, it seems some of the top doors have already begun to close for him. There will be plenty of time for him to make an occasional showtime play—but his legacy with Gilas will be determined by his attention to small details, and not by big, loud gestures.

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Chances: 60%| Potential Impact: B+

Dwight Ramos | 6’4” | 19 Years | California State Fullerton

Dwight’s current strength may lie in his defense, and could be Gilas’ next Tony Allen/Thabo Sefolosha player. But being a pure defensive guard is barely enough to keep him afloat—he will need a few go-to offensive moves in order to mesh well with the dribble-drive offense or risk making Gilas much more predictable. Not much point looking too much into his 2.6 ppg across 8.4 minutes for the Titans.

Chances: 15% | Potential Impact: C+

Joshua Sinclair | 6’4” | 19 Years | NU

Joshua Sinclair’s current claim to fame is his international exposure from the FIBA 3X3 tournament in 2016. Despite being sorely outgunned, Sinclair showed an impressive array of one-on-one moves and unbelievable fadeaways that may remind someone of a taller Terrence Romeo. But with the international game now rewarding ball movement and pace, Sinclair will need to find a way to involve himself in the offense instead of forcing it frequently.

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Chances: 25% | Potential Impact: B

Arvin Tolentino | 6’5” | 22 Years | FEU

At most, Arvin will be viewed as nothing more than a stretch 4 with so-so rebounding, unless he improves his physicality, ballhandling skills, and sense of urgency. But as a prospect he has good size and has shown flashes of being a reliable player—his character and drive to improve will determine his ceiling come 2023.

Chances: 30%| Potential Impact: B-

Javee Mocon | 6’4” | 21 Years | San Beda

Javee Mocon is a very intriguing and versatile prospect at this point. The additional years of experience have translated into an array of skills that make him hard to defend. He can shoot in both pop-ups and set shots, has awkwardly-timed paint floaters that seem to slip by defenders, and seems to have a great understanding of angles. Javee will be severly limited by his height, and at a position that needs more defense and versatility, Mocon will have to speed up his game in order to maintain his unpredictability and unique skillset.

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Chances: 25%| Potential Impact: B


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