So RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario are shooting the lights out and demolishing the mighty San Miguel Beermen. Junemar Fajardo is having a rude awakening on what facing world-class 6’9” players feels like, and Gilas Pilipinas is in Spain battling taller African teams with a nine-man rotation, with only three players standing taller than 6’7”.
Meanwhile, NBA and other pro players from around the world are now playing for their respective teams. We would probably be one of the last teams to practice as a complete unit, since the Commissioners Cup Finals could be a dogfight.
Some questions on Philippine basketball fans’ minds:
Is it too late to include Terrence Romeo in the pool? He’s starting to sound mature, and he’s also shooting very well, one of the few players who didn’t show fear against Terrence Jones.
Can Jayson Castro change his mind? He is definitely playing like the best point guard in Asia. He’s still quick as a blur and a true leader that no one in the pool could come close to.
When will we ever get enough practice for the World Cup—or other major events?
The legacy of Gilas One
The first Gilas roster consisted of outstanding amateur players. They based this venture on the success of the NCC team that saw international success. The hard truth is that the first Gilas team was really short on talent. The plan was actually altered when they requested professional reinforcements.
Some players from the original Gilas are no longer in the PBA (Mac Baracael, Jason Ballesteros, Chris Tiu retired) and only Mark Barroca and Japeth Aguilar are still part of the current Gilas iteration.
The main takeaway: we need to send our best talent, nothing less—and they’re all in the PBA.
The one player per team rule
When the PBA agreed to lend a hand, they were still limitations. Aside from teams aligned with the MVP group, and the ever-reliable Rain or Shine, other teams could only contribute one player per team.
This is tough, since many of the powerhouse teams from the SMC group had the best talent. This holds true even now. Watching the Manila Classico quarterfinals series, I couldn’t help but imagine that we can build a competent national team from those two teams’ rosters.
If Thanos ever visits the PBA, he definitely won’t find it “perfectly balanced.”
The dream of a full-time national team
The original Smart Gilas team was built on the premise that preparation and team chemistry along with great coaching can offset the lack of talent. Shifting to a hastily assembled PBA team, you get better talent, but lose the preparation and chemistry. You have the top PBA coaches, but the question still holds on whether they can perform as well internationally.
To get the best of both worlds, we need to have a full-time Gilas team composed of PBA stars, coached by seasoned international coaches. It’s not an impossible dream, we just need to be creative.
The PBA schedule
The PBA once tried a two-conference format, and they reverted back to the three-conference set-up because they needed to boost gate receipts and TV ratings. Many fans are not so interested in the regular season, which is why we now have single-round eliminations.
Three conferences means three Finals series, when the revenue is at its peak. Considering the dip in venue attendance, there’s no way the PBA would revert to two conferences.
Let’s debate the moral aspect of this because the PBA is a business and it is what it is. It’s better to find a solution given the current circumstances since we cannot change them.
We can propose some changes to the calendar, though. If the teams were to loan their players for the national team, I imagine it would be easier to propose that the players leave in the import-laden conferences. If we can formulate a schedule wherein the teams would have their complete local line-up in the Philippine Cup, then they could probably consider.
What if the PBA can offer something in exchange for teams that willingly loan their players?