The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has been home to many remarkable athletes who have represented the flag in international play. Three of them, all MVPs during their collegiate stints, have been answering the Philippine team’s call so passionately.

For the 2025 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, former NCAA top guns CJ Perez, Calvin Oftana, and Scottie Thompson reunite anew in leading a young and new-look Gilas Pilipinas.


Former Perpetual Altas star Earl Scottie Thompson, 30, won the best player plum in 2014 during the 90th season of the oldest collegiate athletic league in the country.

The Davao del Sur-born cager’s MVP stint in the NCAA saw him post incredible double-double averages of 26.5 points and 10 assists, an outstanding statline that led the Altas to a Final Four berth. Despite an immediate exit in the semifinals,Thompson scored 20 big points for the Altas in a losing effort against eventual Season 90 champions, the San Beda Red Lions.  

Now a prized hooper for the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Scottie has been on an absolute tear since being drafted in 2015. Already under his belt are seven PBA championships, two Best Player of the Conference (BPC) nods, and an MVP Award.

The 30-year-old Davaoeño is a multiple-time national team shoo-in. He first played for Gilas in 2015 where the squad won consecutive gold medals in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and the SEABA Championship.

The 6-foot-1 guard was selected to play for the flag in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, but had to beg off due to personal reasons. He came back to fulfill his national team duties in 2023, during which he won an Asian Games gold medal and got called up for the 2023 FIBA World Cup held in Manila. 

CJ PEREZ, NCAA Season Season 93 MVP

A basketball superstar in his own right, Christian Jaymar Perez, 30, took the NCAA by storm during his two-season campaign for the LPU Pirates from 2017 to 2018. 

The Pangasinan-raised cager won his MVP in Season 93, his first year with the Pirates, after tallying superb averages of 19.3 points, 6.5 boards, 3.6 assists and 1.9 steals. The Mythical 5 member led his school to an excellent 18-0 elimination round sweep.

Notably, Perez was the first local to have won the top award since his national team comrade and fellow NCAA alum Scottie Thompson in Season 90.

Though Perez and the Pirates were not able to replicate their almost-perfect season in 2017, their Season 94 was nothing short of impressive. Perez led the team to its second straight finals berth. 

Despite failing to land any special award due to a suspension, the 6-foot-3 forward averaged MVP-caliber numbers of 18.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.3 steals in a season that would eventually end in the hands of a familiar formidable foe, the Red Lions. He scored 19 points, grabbed six boards and dished four assists in his final game as an NCAA athlete. 

The San Miguel Beermen guard-forward has won left, right, and center since graduating from college. Among his exhaustive list of accolades are two PBA rings, a Finals MVP trophy, a BPC award, and three scoring titles. He was also awarded the top rookie plum in his first PBA season after getting drafted first overall by the Columbia Dyip in 2019.

CJ has been a national team mainstay since 2016. The Pangasinan pride was a bankable performer (9.3ppg, 4.1rpg) for the historic team that triumphed in the 2023 Asian Games, and had a remarkable 2019 FIBA World Cup performance (12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists).


28-year-old Calvin Oftana was the league’s best player in 2019 when he averaged 15.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 blocks, and steered the San Beda Red Lions to an outstanding 18-0 eliminations record. 

The Cebu-born forward, who was raised in Siaton, Negros Oriental, also won three straight championships with the Red Lions from 2016 to 2018. It was during his fourth NCAA season in 2019, however, when 6-foot-5 Oftana's on-court leadership and MVP-caliber production would be in full display.

Getting drafted as the PBA’s third overall pick in 2021, the now-TNT Tropang Giga athlete has been a PBA champion, an All-Star member, and a Mythical team awardee.

Calvin first donned the Gilas uniform in 2020 when he played in a number of FIBA Asia Cup qualifying windows. He would then suit up for the Philippine team a couple more times in the lead up to the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

He played side by side with fellow former NCAA MVPs CJ Perez and Scottie Thompson when Gilas won the Asian gold in 2023.  


Gilas Pilipinas, with its brand new look, will aim to start the year on the right footing as they compete against the continent's best in the 2025 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers. 

In the team’s 94-64 win on Wednesday against Hongkong, Scottie and Calvin started for Coach Tim Cone. They scored five points apiece, with the former also top-assisting for Gilas with nine dishes. 

CJ, meanwhile, scattered five points, three rebounds and two assists off the bench.

After the convincing 30-point victory, they will see action on home soil against Chinese Tapei on February 25 at the Philsports Arena in Pasig, City.