National Basketball Team Coach Chot Reyes revealed the names of the seventeen players who will comprise the Gilas Pilipinas Training Pool, in preparation for the coming FIBA Asia Championships in August of this year. All but two players in the list are from the PBA.
Coach Chot named Jayson Castro, Jimmy Alapag, Larry Fonacier, Ranidel de Ocampo, Ryan Reyes, Jared Dillinger, and Kelly Williams from the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood from the Rain or Shine Elastopainters, Gary David and Japeth Aguilar from the Global Port Batang Pier, Marc Pingris from the San Mig Coffee Mixers, Sonny Thoss from the Alaska Aces, LA Tenorio from Barangay Ginebra, June Mar Fajardo from the Petron Blaze Boosters, naturalized center Marcus Douthit, and UAAP standout and Gilas Cadet Pool member Greg Slaughter.
Immediately, there were all sorts of reactions about the pool’s composition. Particularly on Twitter, some did not agree with the inclusion and/or exclusion of certain players. Others wondered why there are seven players from Talk ‘N Text, while other PBA teams got just a slot or two, or none at all. As usual, the legion of Filipino basketball fans who, as I’ve said before, consider themselves experts, had some positive and more than a few negative comments about Coach Chot’s choices.
Some fans searched for Arwind Santos and James Yap. They wondered how Barangay Ginebra, the most popular team, was practically shut out. Some asked why Reyes and/or Aguilar were included. Fellow PBA players, like Meralco Team Capatin Chris Ross, defended both inclusions. Through all the tweets, one particularly stood out for me. From @smartgilasph was a tweet of which the entire nation should heed: “I know we may not all agree with the lineup, but let us just support Coach Chot Reyes and the Gilas Pilipinas National Basketball Team!”
A few weeks ago, our editor here at Yahoo! Sports PH asked me to think about the players I thought should be included in the lineup for this coming August. I quickly wrote down my list as he prescribed: Douthit plus eleven players, plus five alternates, for a total of seventeen. My “first twelve” consisted of nine of those whom Coach Chot listed, namely Douthit, Castro, Tenorio, Ranidel, Williams, Norwood, Chan, Dillinger, and Sonny Thoss. As my other three “outright” inclusions, I listed Arwind Santos, James Yap, and the fellow who I believe at this time is still the best back-up to Douthit, Asi Taulava. I wrote as my five alternates, regardless of position, Reyes, Alapag, Fonacier, Fajardo, and David.
I shared my list with some friends shortly after I wrote it. While some agreed on my choice of Taulava, they doubted very much if he would be considered, for several reasons, including age (which I don’t buy), corporate affiliation (which I think is baloney but seems to be a genuine concern), and willingness (I’m guessing he’d play if asked!), among others.
Not many hated on my Santos and Yap choices. I tormented myself in not including Alapag in my “outright” list, since I consider him one of the best, but I also felt that both Castro and Tenorio, who have not played for the nation as much as Jimmy, deserved slots and, if all three were included, then we might suffer in the height department. In any event, those in my alternates list are in no way inferior to those in the first twelve and I believe it would be hard to go wrong with any combination of the seventeen players I named.
But the list I came up with does not really matter at all, does it? Coach Chot has now come up with the only list that means something to the entire nation. This is the tallest group of players on the average ever assembled to represent the Philippines. However, while Aguilar (6’8), Fajardo (6’10) and Slaughter (7’0) have the height, they lack the experience. Slaughter struggled at times in the Hong Kong tournament he played in with the Cadet Pool a few weeks ago. There are strong defenders, ballhandlers, penetrators, designated shooters, and, very importantly, versatile players who can play multiple positions and roles, and those who have so much athleticism. Some may lack height, but make up for it with heart.
I surely wanted Santos in the pool, but it’s useless now to talk about who should have and should not have been included. The pool is in place and the arduous journey for those included will begin shortly. They need everyone’s support, prayers, and cooperation. All the major local basketball leagues already agreed to support the team’s preparations for the August tournament, which will be held right here in our own homecourt. They tweaked their schedules to allow all stakeholders to focus on nothing else but trying to win Preparations start immediately, and time is not on our side, but the coaches, trainers, and especially the players, will need to sacrifice for the next few months and focus on the task at hand.
I congratulate all those named to the Training Pool. Of the seventeen named, twelve will eventually remain on the final roster. Let’s all hope for the best as we take this giant step towards possibly regaining some international basketball glory.
You can follow Charlie on Twitter @Charlie C.
Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.