MANILA, Philippines — After national coach Chot Reyes announced the lineup of the new Gilas Pilipinas team, my first thought was, “not bad.” I’m intrigued definitely. It’s a mix of veterans and newcomers with potential.
The veterans include Jayson Castro, June Mar Fajardo, Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar, Paul Lee, and to a certain extent, Raymond Almazan. Nice to see these guys back as they add continuity and they’ll be familiar with the system that Reyes wants to run.
We all know what the veterans can do (experience and scoring sock) so let’s look instead at the newcomers.
Arthur dela Cruz (BlackWater)
Stands 6’4” and plays the three-spot. Plays both ends of the court, can bring down the ball. Can shoot from the outside, post up, and find open teammate. Talks on defense which is important.
Jonathan Grey (Meralco)
I have to admit, he is a surprise. For all his showing this past Philippine Cup, I still think he needs more seasoning. But make no mistake, this kid can shoot though. Doesn’t need screens to get his shot off. Can manufacture them. Not sure he is defensively though.
Bradwyn Guinto (NLEX)
This 6’6” Fil-Australian has a nose for the ball. Knows how to position himself. Isn’t afraid of battling inside the paint. If he can hit that medium range shot more consistently, he’ll be a huge help.
LA Revilla (Mahindra)
Crafty and smart. Makes teammates better. Shifty. Can shoot and break down his man. Can play a half-court offense or even run. Whatever the coach wants. But if you ask me, what makes him very good is his very good attitude towards the team and the game. He will learn a lot playing behind Jayson Castro.
Norbert Torres (Phoenix)
If he can drive to the basket better, he’d be the second coming of Ranidel De Ocampo. I thought that he grew into that big man role much later. In La Salle, I felt he wasn’t comfortable as he seemed like a three or four player (at 6’6”). Unfortunately, in this country, most coaches will shunt you to the four or the five. But he has done much better in the pros. His draft combine performance was awesome.
I like this team’s ability to stretch the floor with their over-all range. The newcomers add some height and passing savvy. They’re all smart and canny players. Not sure if they can run like the previous one.
But you gotta trust the system and the coaching staff. The Seaba tournament will be a good place for these players and this team to get their feet wet.
And it is good to know that Andray Blatche will be back. The man is talented and is a game changer.