What to expect from Gilas Pilipinas’ new call-ups for FIBA Basketball World Cup Asia Qualifiers
A silver medal at the recently concluded Southeast Asian Games will be the first and main motivation for Gilas Pilipinas’ comeback, this time in preparation for the FIBA World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers from June 30 to June 3. July.
Unlike the star-laden PBA team that shockingly lost to Indonesia in the regional meet, this Philippine national team will be made up, for the most part, of collegiate personalities. Their mission? To restore confidence to the program which had just lost gold at the SEA Games for the first time since 1989.
High expectations will fall first and foremost on the shoulders of Nenad Vucinic, who has been named head coach for the third window of the playoffs. It’s a golden opportunity for the simple, detail-oriented tactician, as assistant Jong Uichico described him, to prove that former program director and Gilas coach Tab Baldwin was right to recommend him.
National team stalwarts – which is strange to say because of their young age – San-En NeoPhoenix’s Thirdy Ravena and Levanga Hokkaido’s Dwight Ramos then gave the group of 18 players a boner stripped bare by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas. Returning blue, red and white to their side are Ateneo Blue Eagles Ange Kouame, SJ Belangel and Geo Chiu; UAAP and UP Fighting Maroon champion Carl Tamayo; LATE Tamaraw RJ Abarrientos; and William Navarro and Lebron Lopez.
Seven new names have been included in the pool, one of which comes from a statement in UAAP 84 3×3. UST’s Sherwin Concepcion was hailed as the MVP of the two-day men’s tournament from Thursday to Friday after pulling the Growling Tigers to the championship. The 6ft 3in wing managed three wins, most importantly in the final, when his launch from well beyond the arc above La Salle Green Archer Ralph Cu put the exclamation mark in black and gold. back nine points down.
Throughout the tournament, Concepcion (10.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game) showed the very skill that led to his call to Gilas: the mentality of a shooter to keep taking three and hopefully the, keep doing it too. While his overall percentage in the 5-on-5 tournament stood at 29.7%, it was because the defenses focused on him being the top gun in a UST arsenal that lacked legitimate guns. Back in the first round, when the scouting reports weren’t fully done yet, he actually converted 36.7 of his triple tries.
And despite the percentages, the 25-year-old still hit 33 treys overall, third-best in the entire league. This precision shot will be welcome for a national team that was looking for a deep threat that could replace the shoes or flank Matthew Wright and RR Pogoy.
Obviously, the shooting also paved the way for many other new summons to Gilas:
Average UAAP 84: 4.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists
Spencer had long been known as a near-stunning shooter, even when dressing for Gilas Youth (then Batang Gilas). This held true in the last UAAP season, as he converted 30.8% of his attempts. Better yet, however, the Filipino-Australian has also transformed into a near-lockdown defender, and thus, a true 3-and-D blue player. The way he upset La Salle’s Schonny Winston in the semi-finals and then Ateneo’s Ildefonso in the final will no doubt give a big boost to a Gilas side who will have to face the backyards of New Zealand and India. One catch, however, is that he is currently recovering from plantar fasciitis in Australia and his return to the Philippines is on hold.
NCAA 97 Averages: 15.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.4 blocks
Don’t get me wrong, Abando is the third newcomer mentioned in this article, but that’s only because of the structure of this story. Ultimately, NCAA Rookie of the Year and MVP may be the most impactful addition to this group. A 6-foot-2 long winger, he is the prototype 2 or 3 of the modern international game. In terms of shooting we’ve highlighted, he’s a threat from afar with 11 threes to his name in 12 games played. More than that, it’s a fearless slasher that can smash its way to the edge or fire from midrange. His attacking game is pretty much complete, and he’s no slouch at the other end either, as his quick feet keep him in front of his enemy. What if someone passes it? So those long arms can do some damage. Remember, his chase blocks are just as much of a highlight as his big buckets.
Harris is a 6-foot-7 Filipino-American winger who once compared his game to Boston Celtics first-team All-NBA forward Jayson Tatum. It remains to be seen whether he can, indeed, live up to the billing, and whether his game will fit in well with the Filipino brand of basketball, but chances are the 16-year-old who has his roots in the province of Cebu can contribute right away.
Average UAAP 82 Juniors: 12.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.0 steals
Tamayo, Harold Alarcon, Gerry Abadiano, Terrence Fortea and coach Goldwin Monteverde are now UAAP Juniors and Seniors champions. There is another key element to this National U Bullpup high school dynasty, however, and while Quiambao decided in a different direction by committing to La Salle, he remains a promising prospect. He formed a Twin Towers frontline with Tamayo and the two were, more or less, interchangeable – dominating low with the ability and confidence to land shots from the outside as well, while being imposing inside defenders. The future 6-foot-7 Green Archer isn’t quite as polished as Tamayo, but is still a high-ceiling talent that’s only scratching the surface of his potential. A stint from Gilas may be what he needs to shine even brighter and then dominate from the start as a rookie next UAAP season, just like Tamayo did.
NCAA 97 Averages: 9.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks
Not much is known about Liwag, that is, for casual fans. A 6-foot-6 tall for College Emilio Aguinaldo also directed in the NCAA, his inclusion in the pool involved questions of “Who?!” and/or “What?!” For those in the know, however, they see a diamond in the rough that has the potential to be a big solid, at least modern. The Generals have yet to produce a national basketball team player, but Liwag has as good a chance as anyone to change all that.
Average UAAP 84: 13.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals
Technically, Rivero isn’t a new call-up, as he was already part of a Gilas pool in 2019. He hasn’t featured in any international matches, however, and is, indeed, a relative newcomer to this new era. for the national team. We all already know what we’re going to get from the 6-foot-1 guard – an almost unstoppable slasher who has a penchant for crafty finishing right in the ring. What he also showed in his final year for UP, however, was much improved play. If he can just take some less misguided threes (91 attempts, just 27 accomplishments) and channel his energies into weaponizing his skill at painting his way into the paint to make plays for himself or his teammates, then he can be much of Vucinic’s backspin.