Without Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo, can the national team actually challenge the Aussies?
Like it or not, Jayson Castro has been the very heart and soul of the Gilas Pilipinas national team that is set to play against Team Australia in their first game for the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers which is set to take place tomorrow in Melbourne, Australia. However, Gilas may need to find a way to remain competitive against a bigger, taller and stronger Australian squad because Jayson Castro won't be wearing the national colors, at least for this game.
As if missing Jayson Castro is already a big problem for Gilas. Jio Jalalon is also out as national coach Chot Reyes opts to rest Jalalon. Mind you, folks. Terrence Romeo is also not included in the team. Remember his explosive second quarter dance against Korea? We won't be seeing those dance moves from The Bro anytime soon.
Without two high-scoring guards and a reliable back-up at the point guard position, to whom will the rest of the national team look up to?
Fortunately for Gilas and Chot Reyes, June Mar Fajardo, the reigning PBA MVP will suit up anew for the national team alongside Japeth Aguilar and super rookie, Kiefer Ravena. To begin with, Ravena has already gained more experience with the national, having played and led the team to a gold medal finish in the most recent South East Asian Games alongside Christian Standhardinger so Ravena could very well be the next Jayson Castro. Also, Ravena will be joined by his backcourt mate with the NLEX Road Warriors, Kevin Alas as Chot Reyes' starting backcourt.
Can Gilas win over Australia?
Yes provided that they will show more than just "PUSO".
June Mar Fajardo MUST find a way to score against his taller counterparts and must get used to what they call "bully ball". Japeth Aguilar needs to make sure that his jumpers will go in especially if Fajardo gets defended in the paint. Matthew Wright needs to re-polish his three-point sniping. Overall, it's a definitely a collective effort from all 12 players that bring home the win because like it or not, Jayson Castro's 20 points and 5 assists Gilas averages are big numbers to replace so every contribution counts.
If everyone plays their role and sticks to the system that Chot Reyes wants them to run on both ends of the court, Jayson Castro can take his time to heal up his legs and hopefully, be ready and healthy for the next games. And frankly speaking, the 12-man team that will be playing tomorrow is a team that is filled with some of the elite scorers in the PBA plus a combination of great defenders and rebounders so it's still a complete team even without the Best Point Guard in Asia.