SEA Games aces may form Smart Gilas 2 core
MANILA, Philippines – The nucleus of the 2011 Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball champion squad may be elevated to the national team the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas will soon form with the long-term goal of playing in the 2014 Fiba World Championship.
Smart Gilas operations manager Butch Antonio said the stars of Sinag Pilipinas, skippered by Chris Tiu, in the Indonesia SEA Games two months ago have the height and talent to match Asia’s perennial contenders in the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship, the qualifier to the Worlds in Spain two years from now.
“This group is definitely more athletic than the previous team,” said Antonio. “It will also be bigger and taller if we could get the right pieces.”
Three continental slots are at stake in the Asian championship next year with the Philippines seeking to host the tournament and gain homecourt edge. Qatar and Lebanon are also bidding to host the event.
Seven-footer Greg Slaughter, a Smart Gilas I prospect who went on to play for “four-peat” UAAP champion Ateneo and Sinag Pilipinas, is expected to head the Smart Gilas 2 frontline along with 6-foot-10 naturalized center Marcus Douthit.
Felers have also been sent to 6-foot-9 Cebuano Junmar Fajardo, who now plays for the San Miguel Beermen in the Asean Basketball League.
The Smart Gilas top brass is also toying with the idea of putting seven-footer JaVale McGee of the Washington Wizards in a Philippine uniform as one of two naturalized players.
Other members of Sinag Pilipinas were UAAP MVP Bobby Ray Parks of National U, Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena, Nico Salva and Emman Monfort, San Beda’s Garvo Lanete, Jake Pascual and Dave Marcelo, FEU’s RR Garcia and Fil-Ams Clifford Hodge and Chris Ellis.
“The only problem I see is the commitment with their respective schools,” said Antonio.
The national team will also include PBA stars, most likely the former Smart Gilas players who are now flourishing in the pro league.
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