Who’s in? Who’s out?

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Photo Courtesy: PBA.ph and Nuki Sabio

The Smart Gilas Pilipinas national team is in its crucial stages of preparation for the FIBA-Asia Championship slated this September in Wuhan, China. As of this writing, it is leading the pack among ten teams in the ongoing Commisioner’s Cup of the Philippine Basketball Associaiton (PBA). It has been agreed earlier that the current roster of the team is to be beefed up with some players from the PBA. In most cases, the final composition of the squad will be known on the eve of the final day of submission of rosters which would most likely fall on September 3 since the actual competition starts on the fifth. But this early, enthusiasts are spending hours arguing on who should make the final cut. The rest of the team will come from the PBA. On Toroman’s wish list of PBA players are Jimmy Alapag, Ryan Reyes, Ranidel de Ocampo and Kelly Williams of TnT, Sol Mercado and Asi Taulava of Meralco, James Yap of B-Meg, Jay Washington of San Miguel Beer and Sonny Thoss and Joe Devance of Alaska. In short, twenty two players will be seeking to make it to the final twelve.

Looking at the present line-up of the Gilas on a neutral perspective, I have thought on some factors in considering the final roster for the Wuhan qualifiers. First, the recent statements by coach Rajko Toroman. The Serbian mentor has been interviewed a number of times early this year about the development of the team. The Olympic veteran coach knows international basketball too well so he has the instincts on who deserves the spots whether we agree or not.

Second, the playing minutes. The logic is simple. If you play well, you have more playing time. Otherwise, the bench is your best friend.

And third, the trusted lieutenants. Obviously, a coach would rely on his best players on the crucial moments of the game.

Considering these three, it looks like JV Casio, Chris Tiu, Marcio Lassiter, Mac Baracael and (Of course) Marcus Douhtit are shoo-ins to make it to the final line-up. Dylan Ababou and Jason Ballesteros, in contrast, are credited for their valuable contributions during practices but won’t see action in the tournament proper. This leaves Mark Barroca, Chris Lutz, Aldrech Ramos, Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter on the balance beam.

Besides, it would also depend on the overall strategy of the coaching staff for the competition. Playing small ball would most likely yield Aguilar playing the Power Forward – Center position. With it, Greg Slaughter might end up cut. Moreover, it’s possible that Toroman decides to have three point guards in Casio, Barroca and Alapag. In this case, there’s a shake up at the wings wherein Aldrech Ramos’ will be relegated on the reserved list.

Whatever it is, we have to wait until September 4, the latest, to really know who’s in and who’s out.

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