F The Difficult Road Ahead (Part 1) - Powcast Sports

The Difficult Road Ahead (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of FIBA.com
When Gilas lost to China in the gold medal match of the FIBA Asia Championhips by a score of 67-78, we lost much, much more than just the continental title. We also lost the easiest available ticket to the Rio Olympics next year.

Gilas did qualify for the Olympic qualifiers in July next year, when 18 teams will battle it out for 3 more tickets to Rio. The problem? Already included in this roster of 18 teams are world-class teams like France, Serbia, Greece, Mexico and Puerto Rico, rising teams like Italy, the Czech Republic, Canada, and New Zealand, and Asian qualifiers Iran and Japan. That’s a murderers’ row of teams to get through for three Olympic tickets. 

So what are Gilas’ chances for an Olympic ticket? My biased opinion: fair to small. My unbiased opinion: small to miniscule. I’m sure your next question would be “why?” (or you could also be jumping down my throat for being unpatriotic, having no faith in Gilas or just being a sucky Filipino).

Let’s assume you asked why. Here’s how I see things going in the coming FIBA Olympic Qualifiers.

Biased Opinion: We may be able to field our best team yet, if politics do not rear up its ugly head once again and everything goes our way, with regards to team personnel. That means getting slim Andray Blatche back, getting the proper FIBA papers for Jordan Clarkson, and getting several PBA stars back into the fold.

With that in mind, this is what our roster will look like:
Sure picks: Slim Andray Blatche, Jordan Clarkson, Jayson Castro, Junmar Fajardo, Ranidel de Ocampo, Marc Pingris, Gabe Norwood, Calvin Abueva, and Terence Romeo.

This lineup is an experienced one but remarkably old, with speed and toughness galore. There are some areas that we could improve on (outside shooting, rebounding, defense) and these players would most probably be picked because of those problem areas.

Outside shooting – Paul Lee and Jeff Chan. Chan is the purer shooter but Lee is more than adequate. Either one would be a major upgrade over Ganuelas or Intal, and they’re also better than Abueva, who makes the team because of his other qualities.
Rebounding/defense – Jeth Troy Rosario. Makes the cut above players like Japeth Aguilar, Greg Slaughter and Raymond Almazan because of his combination of athleticism, skills, and tenacity. If Aguilar toughened up, or Slaughter sped up, or Alamazan bulked up, any of those three may have a chance to take this slot. But until then, Rosario has it because of his continuing game development plus his familiarity with Tab Baldwin’s system.

Outlook of this team: Very nice. This team can really do some major damage, with Fajardo scoring inside, Rosario preying at the baseline, Blatche and Clarkson from everywhere, Castro and Romeo driving into the lane, Chan, Lee and de Ocampo firing from three to break the zone, and Pingris, Norwood, and Abueva for energy and defense. Actually, that team could very well have beaten China at the FIBA Championships. Just sayin’.

Unbiased Opinion: If recent developments run true to form, politics will and already has reared up its ugly head.  That means not getting the PBA stars with the skill sets we need back into the fold. Hell, it might even mean not getting any PBA players at all. If we take the worst-case scenario, that means Gilas will be sending a team composed mostly of players from the MVP teams, plus some outstanding amateur cadets, chunky Blatche shows up to play, and Clarkson’s eligibity is turned down by FIBA.

With that in mind, this is what our roster will look like:
Sure picks: Chunky Andray Blatche, Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Jeth Troy Rosario, Jimmy Alapag, Kelly Williams, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Kiefer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks, Kobe Paras, Kevin Ferrer and Glenn Khobuntin.

This lineup is so problematic it’s hard to know where to start. Size is basically non-existent, the mix of experience and youth is not balanced (meaning the old guys are really old, the young guys are really young and maybe only Blatche and Castro can be considered still at their peak), and toughness is a big, big question mark.  

Outlook of this team: Horrible. Andray Blatche is in no shape to be everything for the team, Castro and Alapag will need to be primary scorers and playmakers, Williams and Rosario will routinely give up 3-5 inches in their respective positions, and everyone else will be relatively inexperienced to bother battle-hardened international players.

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