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Next in line Assembling the Gilas 2 'cadet' squad

April 11, 2012 3:13pm

With the best that the PBA has to offer assembled by National team coach Chot Reyes, all eyes now turn to his "cadet" pool, a group of collegiate and amateur players that can be tapped for reinforcements, and eventually form the core of squads going beyond the 2014 FIBA World Championship.

The truth of the matter is, a sort of cadet squad already exists, namely the 15-man Sinag Pilipinas squad assembled by coach Norman Black for the 2011 South East Asian Games, a team that won gold in that competition. However, there is a wide range of talent beyond that squad that easily represents the future of basketball in the country. There are versatile big men, floor generals, deadeye shooters, and more, just waiting to be tapped. Who are some of those players and what can they bring to the table? The answers, below.

Sinag stalwarts

SG  Chris Tiu 5'11"  Gilas I
PG  Emman Monfort 5'6"  ADMU Blue Eagles - UAAP
 7.29 pts, 4.1 rebs, 4.3 asts, 1.6 stls
 NLEX Road Warriors - PBADL (on-going)
SF  Chris Ellis 6'3"  NLEX Road Warriors - PBADL (on-going)
 11.5 pts, 3.75 rebs, 1.25 stls
G  RR Garcia 5'10"  FEU Tamaraws - UAAP
 15.40 pts, 4.20 rebs, 3.0 asts, 0.9 stls
 NLEX Road Warriors - PBADL (on-going)
SG/SF  Bobby Ray Parks 6'4"  NU Bulldogs - UAAP
 20.0 pts, 6.5 rebs, 2.90 asts, 1.10 blks
C  Greg Slaughter 7'0"  ADMU Blue Eagles - UAAP
 13.30 pts, 9.10 rebs, 1.40 asts, 1.90 blks
C  Dave Marcelo 6'5"  SBC Red Lions - NCAA
 9.50 pts, 8.40 rebs, 1.20 asts, 1.90 blks
 NLEX Road Warriors - PBADL (on-going)
PF  Jake Pascual 6'4"  SBC Red Lions - NCAA
 7.20 pts, 8.20 rebs, 3.0 asts, 1.90 blks
C  Cliff Hodge 6'5"  NLEX Road Warriors - PBADL (on-going)
 21.0 pts, 10.25 rebs, 1.5 blks
SG  Garvo Lanete 6'1"  SBC Red Lions - NCAA
 17.30 pts, 4.90 rebs, 2.20 asts
 NLEX Road Warriors - PBADL (on-going)
F  Nico Salva 6'4"  ADMU Blue Eagles - UAAP
 13.50 pts, 5.80 rebs, 1.80 asts
G  Kiefer Ravena 5'11"  ADMU Blue Eagles - UAAP
 13.60 pts, 4.20 rebs, 3.0 asts, 1.50 sts
C  Justin Chua 6'5"   ADMU Blue Eagles - UAAP
  4.90 pts, 3.50 rebs
SG/SF  Jeric Teng 6'2"  UST Growling Tigers - UAAP
 13.80 pts, 4.33 rebs, 2.33 asts
 RnW Pacific Pipes - PBADL (on-going)
PG  Jeric Fortuna 5'7"  UST Growling Tigers - UAAP
 13.27 pts, 4.07 rebs, 3.27 asts, 1.27 stls
 Blackwater Sports - PBADL (on-going)

Take the Sinag squad, plus their reserves, and then start from there. It goes without saying that the three untouchable players on that list would be Greg Slaughter, Bobby Ray Parks and Kiefer Ravena. That's a young trio that will likely be the cornerstone of any squad the Philippines decides to send to an international hoops tourney for many years to come, with the added bonus that each plays a different position, spreading the talent, so to speak.

After that though, it becomes a matter of taste. Tiu will likely be the leader of any second squad, and could be the most obvious call-up to the main team, thanks to his international experience. Chris Ellis is the sort of do-it-all hustle guy that made Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz so valuable on the first Gilas squad. If Nico Salva can become a full-time small forward instead of an undersized power forward by refining his jumper, he could be in the mix. Jake Pascual brings great floor vision for a collegiate power forward, while Garvo Lanete and Jeric Teng are snipers.

Clash of the titans

One thing the PBA-squad doesn't have is height, with their largest player topping out at 6-foot-6. While the Gilas braintrust will likely add a naturalized big man to play center, there are a few collegiate and semi-pro giants they ought to consider, at least for the training pool.

C  Junemar Fajardo 6'10"  San Miguel Beermen - ABL (on-going)
 4.75 pts, 4.44 rebs, 0.75 blks
C  Ian Sangalang 6'7"  SSCR Golden Stags - NCAA
 15.80 pts, 11.0 rebs, 2.20 blks
 NLEX Road Warriors - PBADL (on-going)
C  Yousef Taha 6'7"  MIT Cardinals - NCAA
 11.60 pts, 9.50 pts, 2.20 asts, 1.30 blks
C  Raymond Almazan 6'7"  CSJL Knights - NCAA
 7.10 pts, 9.80 pts, 2.60 blks
 Cebuana Lhuillier Gems - PBADL (on-going)
PF  Norbert Torres 6'6"  DLSU Green Archers - UAAP
 7.90 pts, 5.80 rebs, 1 ast, 1.60 blks
PF  Aldrech Ramos 6'6"  FEU Tamaraws - UAAP
 11.70 pts, 9.30 rebs, 1.50 asts, 1.10 blks
 Gilas I
 AirAsia Philippine Patriots - ABL (on-going)

Fajardo is obviously the big get, no pun intended. In our fantasy world, the 6-foot-10 center is an easy choice. He'll be the second tallest local next to Slaughter, and it's not inconceivable for the two to even share the court. Toss in your naturalized big man, and you have a pretty decent center rotation.

Sangalang was actually going to be part of Sinag, but just couldn't keep up to the program's commitments. Put him on the court though, and he's an unselfish, hardworking big guy, who can dominate when given the touches. Filipino-Palestinian Taha is raw, but would get some much needed refinement with a dedicated big man coach. Almazan is a beanpole, but a talented shot-blocker. Veteran Aldrech Ramos has put in the time and deserves to be in the mix, while Torres played small forward while in Canada for high school, and is a power forward for La Salle, so his versatility could be a huge plus for him.

Dribblers and set-up artists

G/SF  Julius Armon 6'3"  SBC Red Lions - NCAA (residency)
G/SF  Josan Nimes 6'3"  MIT Cardinals - NCAA
 15.80 pts, 4.70 rebs, 1.70 asts
G  Kevin Alas 6'1"  CSJL Knights - NCAA
 17.50 pts, 6.0 rebs, 5.40 asts, 2.0 stls
 Cebuana Lhuillier Gems - PBADL (on-going)

One common tactic opposing international squads employ against the Philippines is to attack our relatively small point guards. That won't exactly be an option with Armon and Nimes, two Fil-Ams who grew up handling the rock, but who have been converted to shooting guards and small forwards playing college ball here. Armon's the speedy slasher, while the current NCAA rookie of the year adds firepower to the squad thanks to his accuracy from deep.

Of course, neither of those guys were invited to practice in the U.S. with an ABA club, which is what Alas got to experience last December. Although he's known more as a scorer here, He's thrived as of late as a passer, thanks to Letran surrounding him with more scorers. On a National squad, he'll have his pick of players to pass to, while still preserving his ability to take over a game.

Swing, swingmen

F  Keith Jensen 6'4"  Big Chill Superchargers - PBADL (on-going)
 10 pts, 8 rebs, 3 asts, 1.75 stls
F  Alex Mallari 6'4"  Big Chill Superchargers - PBADL (on-going)
 10 pts, 4.25 rebs, 2.75 asts, 1.75 stls
SF  Kevin Ferrer 6'4"  UST Growling Tigers - UAAP
 7.73 points, 5.20 rebounds, 1.20 assists
SF  Anthony Semerad 6'5"  SBC Red Lions - NCAA
 6.40 pts, 2.70 rebs
 ADMU Blue Eagles - UAAP (residency)
SF  Calvin Abueva 6'3"  SSCR Golden Stags - NCAA
 20.60 pts, 13.70 rebs, 3.90 asts
 NLEX Road Warriors - PBADL (on-going)
SF  Ronald Pascual 6'3"  SSCR Golden Stags - NCAA
 17.50 pts, 5.60 rebs, 2.80 asts
SG  Ryan Buenafe 6'2"  ADMU Blue Eagles - UAAP
 7.94 pts, 3.88 rebs, 3.24 asts (UAAP S73)
SG  Alex Nuyles 6'2"  ADU Falcons - UAAP
 15.30 pts, 5.50 rebs, 3.30 asts
SG  Chris Newsome 6'2"  ADMU Blue Eagles - UAAP (residency)

The case for Calvin Abueva is simple: lots of talent, and every team could use one out-of-control person to liven up the locker room. So, Abueva would fulfill that quotient, hands down, while bringing a versatile threat who can also handle the ball and play tough D.

The Big Chill Fil-Am pair of Alex Mallari and Keith Jensen is intriguing because of their do-it-all nature. Jensen is more of a post player however, but if he can learn to play farther from the hoop, he can certainly make a case for inclusion on the team. What's impressive about the two though are their assist totals, as good ball movement can make a height-challenged squad more deadly.

If more guys to spread the floor are needed, two guys who can nail outside shots with decent ceilings are Kevin Ferrer and former Red Lion Anthony Semerad. On the flipside, if there's a lack of slashers, then the high-flying Alex Nuyles ought to do, as can Fil-Am Chris Newsome, who is currently doing residency for Ateneo.

Two wild cards who could be up for spots are Ronald Pascual, Abueva's San Sebastian teammate, and Blue Eagle Ryan Buenafe. Prior to his ACL injury, Pascual was a dynamic scoring threat, able to rain triples as well as slash into the lane for a dunk, but who knows if he'll still have that same explosiveness? Ditto for Buenafe, UAAP Season 73 Finals MVP. Buenafe can score with the best of them, but can also seek out teammates in a point forward role, but his weight conditioning is really a question mark at this point.

Loads of talent

There's an abundance of talent just a few years away from fully ripening in Philippine basketball, as shown in this list. If the goal of the Philippines is to qualify for the 2016 Olympics, we have as good a chance as any in this qualifying cycle. The PBA-selection can hold down the fort for now, with cadet pool call-ups slowly filtering their way into Team A before ultimately becoming its majority. These are exciting times for Philippine basketball, and perhaps now more than ever, this country's Olympics dream seems more attainable than it has been in a long while. — JVP, GMA News
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