Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes knows just how formidable the Asian giants are down the lane.
That explains why he filled the national team training pool with pro league players who possess quickness and agility plus physicality that can withstand the banging and shoving in the FIBA-Asia Basketball Championship set on Aug.1-11 here in Manila.
On Thursday, Reyes formally introduced the 15 PBA players who will be joined by naturalized import Marcus Douthit and 7-foot cadet player Greg Slaughter in the training pool where the final 12-man lineup will be chosen from.
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Although not lacking in big men with Douthit, Slaughter, Petron Blaze rookie June Mar Fajardo and Alaska center Sonny Thoss, the former five-time pro league Coach of the Year also sounded confident with his selected wing players.
“I’m not worried about height. Ang importante we have to have a lot of weapons and makakalaban lang tayo sa rebounds,” he stated.
Comprising the pool’s wing players are Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood, Gary David and Japeth Aguilar of GlobalPort, Talk ‘N Text trio of Ranidel De Ocampo, Jared Dillinger and Kelly Williams, and Marc Pingris of San Mig Coffee.
While David is more known for his offensive prowess, the remaining wing players – usually playing the three- and four-positions – thrive more in doing the dirty work and somehow deliver timely buckets when needed.
“All of our wingmen are great rebounders,” noted Reyes. “Size wala, eh. Maski ano gawin natin, we're not gonna be bigger than the Middle Eastern teams.”
He’s referring to powerhouse Iran which is armed not only with NBA veteran Hamed Haddadi but also has prolific scorers in Samad Nikkhah Bahrami (29 years old, 6-foot-6) and Rice University star Arsalan Kazemi (21, 6-foot-7).ALSO READ: Aguilar stands tall as Batang Pier slip past Blaze Boosters
Lebanon appears deadly as ever with the legendary Fadi El Khatib (34, 6-foot-6), who skipped the 2011 edition but resurfaced in last year's FIBA Asia Cup in Tokyo, leading the charge while teaming up with up-and-coming Ahmad Ibrahim (20, 6-foot-7).
Jordan, which lost a heartbreaker to China in the 2011 title match, remains formidable with efficient forward Zaid Abbas (29, 6-foot-8) plus naturalized American Rasheim Wright (31, 6-foot-3) and heady playmaker Sam Daghles, who effectively uses his 6-foot-6 frame.
To make matters worse, China, the defending tournament kingpin, still has former NBA veteran Yi Jianlian (25, 7-foot) in its fold along with wingmen Zhu Fangyu (29, 6-foot-7) and Wang Shipeng (29, 6-foot-6).
South Korea, better known for its finesse shooting skills, has also become a physical team with the presence of Oh Se-Keun (25, 6-foot-7) while the 37-year old naturalized American Moon Tae-Jong (formerly Jarod Cameron Stevenson, 6-foot-6) and Yang Hee-Jong (28, 6-foot-4) remain the team’s consistent gunners.
Japan is also not to be treated lightly with shooting guard Takuya Kawamura (26, 6-foot-4) and the 6-foot-9 Takeuchi twins Kosuke and Joji. Kosuke briefly saw action in the 2010 NBA Summer League.
Although facing a tough task of steering the country back to the world cage meet since 1978, Reyes is unfazed, saying: “The goal is to make the top 3 but the dream is to win it all.”
“The pool that we have answers the needs that we identified earlier. We need to be very versatile. We can play up tempo. We can go down low if we need to. But we have to have a lot of speed, quickness and athleticism and a lot of outside shooting and I think the lineup bears that,” he pointed out.
THE 17-MAN GILAS POOL: