Bigger, more talented Gilas out to compete against the world
The Philippines will be aiming for the moon as it goes for a final shot at making the Olympics next year and it’s only right that it will be sending the cream of the crop of basketball.
“I think it’s one of the best teams assembled by our national team,” said LA Tenorio, who is part of the 17-man Gilas Pilipinas pool tasked to fight for a slot in the 2016 Rio Olympics via the wild card phase.
“[This team is] very talented,” Tenorio said. “June Mar (Fajardo), Greg (Slaughter) and all the shooters in the PBA are also here and guards [who are familiar] with coach Tab’s system. So it’s a very competitive team.”
June Mar Fajardo, undeniably the most dominant Filipino player today, banners the latest national team pool, joining Tenorio and Marcio Lassiter.
The three were heavily criticized after begging off from the national team duties before the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship.
Also new to the retooled Gilas 3.0 lineup are Greg Slaughter, Jeff Chan, Ryan Reyes, Japeth Aguilar and Paul Lee while Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, Marc Pingris, Gabe Norwood, Jayson Castro, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Troy Rosario are back for a possible second consecutive stint.
“We have a lot of size now,” said Pingris in Filipino. “We also have young players like Terrence (Romeo). The previous teams have combined to form this version of Gilas.”
There’s no question that the latest Gilas team is overflowing with talent but Pingris knows that skills alone won’t get it done.
“I know coach Tab’s job will be a lot easier but it’s still up to us on how hard will work in practice and how we’ll be able to give our 100%,” Pingris, who has been the backbone of Gilas since his inclusion in the team, said. “It’s not only talent. We also need to give 100% heart.”
Gilas will be going up against the world’s best teams like France, Serbia and Greece to name a few and only three teams or the top team in each of the three groups will nail an Olympic slot.
But for Tenorio, with the best of the best available for Gilas, which will also likely get the services of naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche and Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson in the tournament, this is the most opportune time for the country to compete.
“It’s not over so as of now, we still have a big chance to compete because it hasn’t started yet and I think this is our best chance to compete against the world because coach Tab knows what he’s doing and his vast international experience is a big factor,” said the Barangay Ginebra point guard.
“And like what coach Tab said, if we’re able to compete in Asia, hopefully, our next goal is to compete against the world.”