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The Gilas Wish List - Feb 5, 2018

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After PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial announced the lifting of the one-player-per-team limit for the Gilas pool, fans naturally became excited at the prospect of seeing other PBA stars join the national pool. Although Coach Chot Reyes has announced there will be no new players added for the second qualifying window which is less than 3 weeks away, he said they will look into expanding the pool for the succeeding qualifiers.

The question now is who are the players who deserve a national team call-up. But before that, we have two things to consider.

First, Coach Chot is preparing Gilas not only for the 2019 FIBA World Cup and the 2020 Olympics, but also for the 2023 FIBA Manila World Cup. From the current pool, only Gabe Norwood, Andray Blatche, and Jayson Castro would be too old for 2023. The three would probably be on their last national team tour of duty in 2020 if Gilas makes the Olympics. (Norwood would be 35. Blatche and Castro would be 34). It would be impractical to add players who will not be able to serve the national team beyond 2020. Second, players who do not meet the FIBA citizenship requirement obviously cannot be considered, so this rules out Fil-foreigners Chris Ross, Stanley Pringle, Christian Standhardinger, Chris Banchero, Chris Newsome, and Mo Tautuaa, unless they are tapped as naturalized players.

From the current roster of PBA players, the following should be in contention for spots in the Gilas pool:

Greg Slaughter- Slaughter played in the SEABA Championships in 2011 right before FIBA decided to put in place the Hagop rule on citizenship so he is FIBA eligible. Filipino fans have salivated at the idea of a Gilas frontline featuring Slaughter, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, and Blatche. This could finally happen as early as the 3rd window of the FIBA qualifiers this June. Gregzilla will still be serviceable by 2023 when he will be 35 years old.

2) Marcio Lassiter- Lassiter will be 36 in 2023, but he is too good to pass up on in the next 3 years. Imagine Castro or Blatche attacking the lane and they have Lassiter and Matthew Wright spotting up for kick out passes. Lassiter can provide consistent outside shooting which Gilas oftentimes seems to be lacking. He is also a top notch perimeter defender who can be called upon to shadow the likes of Makoto Heijima.

3) Paul Lee- Who can forget the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup when Lee sank 3 free throws with no time left to help Gilas clinch the bronze over China? Lee needs to be back in a Gilas uniform. Coach Chot has always been known to employ multiple point guards in his lineups, even having 4 in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. So it's possible we will see Lee, Castro, Terrence Romeo, and Kiefer Ravena playing together. That will be fun to watch and a dizzying nightmare for opposing teams.

4) Poy Erram- Blackwater may be going through a slump, but the 6'8 Erram has been playing well enough to merit consideration for the Gilas pool. He is averaging 12 rebounds a game (number 2 behind Fajardo) and a league leading 3.4 blocks a game, further proof that this former Blue Eagle is one of the top young big men in the country today. A mobile big man like Erram with a decent touch from outside and a nose for defense is someone Coach Chot will surely consider.

5) Ian Sangalang- The 6'7 Sangalang was in the Gilas radar as early as 2015, but heath issues hindered him from joining the national pool. The 26 year old Kapampangan has finally regained both his form and confidence based on his averages of 14.25 points and 7.63 rebounds in the All-Filipino conference. Gilas will need more bigs when they advance to the latter rounds of the qualifier, and Sangalang will definitely be a welcome addition to the Gilas frontline.

6) Scottie Thompson- Thompson plays big for his size. He also is arguably the best all-around guard in the PBA today. Just look at his stats: 10.71 points, 9.7 rebounds, 6.29 assists. That's almost 10 rebounds a game for someone who with shoes on will probably measure just 6'2. He and Calvin Abueva can from a lethal combination of wingmen who will be all over the court and who could hurt opponents in different ways.

7) Baser Amer- Amer used to be known as the quintessential point guard during his collegiate days. Pass first. Make teammates look good. Execute the offense. He still does that now. He averages a PBA-best 7.0 assists per game. But this Davao native has also become a potent offensive threat. He averages 11.57 points a game. He is also making 48.5% of his three point attempts, the highest in the PBA this conference. There's nothing flashy about Amer, but he gets the job done.

8) Jeron Teng- Some fans say Teng's game is not fit for international competition. But he has shown in last year's FIBA Asia Champion's Cup that he can score in bunches against bigger defenders. He exploded for 18 points against Sareyyet Ramallah of Palestine and 17 points against Mono Vampire of Thailand. Teng averages 13.13 points and 4.38 rebounds this conference. At 23 years old and with his work ethic, Teng will get better and can still improve his outside shooting.   

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