On January 22, head coach Chot Reyes will reveal a highly anticipated 24-man Gilas Pilipinas pool. Half of the talented group will consist of the existing Gilas Cadets roster: Mac Belo, Carl Cruz, Jio Jalalon, Ed Daquioag, Russel Escoto, Mile Tolomia, Alfonso Gotladera, Arnold Van Opstal, Ven Pessumal, RR Pogoy, Kevin Ferrer, and Matthew Wright.
With just days left before the big announcement, a scheduling conflict between the SEA Games and FIBA Asia Cup has presented itself, leaving Reyes one more problem to tackle. In fact, a second national team may have to be created in order to battle in both competitions. If so, this would be the first time it would happen.
Because of the recent agreement between the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Reyes can now draw one player from each PBA team to join the national pool. Perhaps, now with a second squad in the offing, former Gilas members could likewise be up for consideration.
Considerable turnovers from last year’s roster would be scoring machine Terrence Romeo, along with three-time PBA MVP Jun Mar Fajardo on the down low. FIBA veteran Jayson Castro, a key member of the famous Gilas 1.0 team would also be a legitimate consideration for the national team.
An exceptional player who didn’t make it to last year’s list is Alaska Aces forward Calvin Abueva. Most people would remember Tab Baldwin’s decision to cut the explosive Abueva from last year’s FIBA stint in favor of the taller Bobby Ray Parks Jr. Fans reacted with dismay, claiming, rightfully, that The Beast displays the biggest heart during games – especially against stronger opponents.
Will having two Gilas teams allow Abueva to play for the flag once more?
The chances are high for The Beast. This year, Abueva has been on the court more than he’s ever been his entire pro career. To add to that, he’s been putting up an effortless post-injury stat line with 17-9-3. This season the PBA is watching a tireless Abueva carry the Aces on his shoulders, as well as keeping their playoff hopes alive.
To recall the hopeful Gilas 3.0 roster, Abueva performed exceptionally well, displaying his ability to do just about anything on the court. Defensively, he’s a force to be reckoned with. And in terms of scoring, he’s not afraid to get right up in against the opposition and get the job done. Cut short, Abueva isn’t exactly the player you want to be matched up against.
With a chance to play at large, are we looking at an international bounce back for The Beast? Is he a perfect fit for this year’s potential roster? Will his lack in height remain to be a liability for the team? Chot Reyes and his staff continue to be surrounded by questions to be answered during the following days.
Image source: Smart Gilas