A couple of nights ago, coach Chot Reyes tweeted the list of players he says that will surely be invited to join the Gilas Cadet team. The list comprised of Terrence Romeo, Kiefer Ravena, Ray Parks, Arnold Van Opstal, Chris Newsome, Kevin Ferrer and Raymond Almazan. Probably hounded by a mix of angry replies and Twitter bashing, Reyes followed the tweet with another statement naming the current Gilas Cadets: RR Garcia, Kevin Alas, Garvo Lanete, Jake Pascual, Matt Ganuelas, Ronald Pascual and Greg Slaughter.
The final list that comprises the Gilas Cadet team will most likely be the team that will be sent to the SEA games. For many years, the SEA games have not only been a good opportunity for the Philippines to develop young talent through competition, but has also been an event where Philippine basketball fans can see their favorite collegiate stars team up with one another. In the end the fans win, as they get to live out watching the year’s version of a collegiate all star team. Some of the public’s excited fan thoughts might go like this: How much damage could a lineup with Ravena, Parks and Van Opstal do? What a luxury the Gilas Cadet team has with defensive stoppers like Newsome and Ferrer. I can’t wait for Nico Salva’s tweets on Romeo.
With every formation of a national team will come controversy, and the Gilas Cadet team will surely not be exempted from this. This was evident most recently in the formation of the Gilas Pilipinas national team wherein many people questioned the selection of some PBA stars. its almost a given that many hardcore basketball fans will also question the inclusion of some of the UAAP stars in the Cadet team and cry foul at the exclusion of the stars they deem to be worthy of a Cadet spot. If you count the players mentioned above by Reyes, those are already 14 players for the roster. A lot of those names will probably accept, but some might also decline or be unavailable. If ever roster spots open up, it might mean the inclusion of other UAAP players not mentioned by Reyes. Here we discuss the UAAP players that we think should also be in the conversation of consideration for a Cadet spot.
1. Roi Sumang (UE Red Warriors)
When I was coming up with this list, I thought of several names before eventually recalling Roi Sumang. Roi Sumang! How could I forget? Super Sumang. The Spitfire. Roi Wonder. The Biggest Heart. The guy who hits the big shot almost every game for UE. My mind was blown thinking of how well Roi Sumang would play in a dribble drive offense. He’s probably the fastest guard in the UAAP, freakishly athletic. He can defend, pass the ball unbelievably well, and even rebound well as a guard. There’s almost nothing Sumang can’t do at a high level on the basketball court. His game actually reminds me a lot of Derrick Rose (who thrived in the dribble drive playing for the Memphis Tigers).
2. Rodney Brondial (Adamson Soaring Falcons)
Rodney Brondial is arguably one of the best rebounders and shot blockers in the league. Actually, he’s arguably the best defensive local big in collegiate basketball. Brondial thrives on the defensive end, his game focuses on protecting the paint and preventing big guys from scoring down low. On the offensive end, he hustles for putbacks and offensive rebounds. He’s also not too shabby with the jumpers. The good part of his game is that he doesn’t have to score a lot to be effective. In a roster with explosive scorers like Ravena and Parks on your team, he can fit right in being the intangibles guy. Also, he can save the Gilas team a lot of money by cooking meals overseas.
3. Jeron Teng (La Salle Green Archers)
Jeron Teng is an explosive scorer that excels in fast break opportunities and post ups. He’s very good in rebounding and is at his best when he grabs offensive boards and makes putbacks. He can help the team mostly by scoring (especially if its more of a fast break style of Gilas offense) and rebounding. Even though Jeron Teng is a very talented and high level player, I do worry that he might not fit in with the halfcourt sets of the dribble drive offense. Nevertheless, if he gets in, I do think he’ll find ways to contribute and even just on talent alone, should be considered for the Gilas Cadet team.
4. Jeric Teng (UST Growling Tigers)
I was actually surprised both Tengs were left off coach Chot’s tweet invites. Maybe 140 characters were just too short a space? I could understand though how Jeron Teng could be left off because of his lack of consistent shooting (shooting very important in international play) and Jeric Teng being left off because of injury issues. With that said, I think Jeric Teng would really be a great fit to the Gilas Cadets. He’s a scorer/shooter that doesn’t need the ball much to contribute. He moves well without the ball with excellent cuts and effectively uses picks to free himself. He could really space the floor with his outside shooting.
5. Aljon Mariano (UST Growling Tigers)
Mariano is excellent in post ups. Actually, he’s excellent in most things he does offensively. There are only a few big men in the league that are more skilled than Aljon Mariano. He’s so athletic and so sound offensively. He can break you down with his combination of spin moves, turnarounds and drives to the basket. He’s also a terrific shooter/scorer. If only Mariano had the three point shot locked down, I’d think he would be perfect for the Gilas Cadets spacing the floor like a Ranidel de Ocampo. He would still be a good complementary post up player behind Slaughter and Van Opstal.
6. Mike Tolomia (FEU Tamaraws)
Tolomia is probably one of the most underrated players in the UAAP. He doesn’t get much exposure playing under the shadow of guards RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo but has contributed so much to the success of the Tamaraws. Tolomia is a speedster. He’s at his best running the break and attacking the basket. When the threes are falling, he’s almost unguardable. Its probably a long shot that Tolomia will be included in the Gilas Cadet team because of him being raw offensively (which is ok) and there are many spectacular guards in the collegiate ranks. One thing Tolomia has going for him though is that he already knows the dribble drive system since the Tamaraws use DDM under the reign of coach Nash Racela.
7. Jericho Cruz (Adamson Soaring Falcons)
Cruz is really athletic and fast. He’s at his best attacking the rim and in the open court. He’s a scorer/slasher. In Adamson this year, Cruz has been asked to do so much that doesn’t really fit his style of play. He’s been asked to be the main scorer while also being the main distributer and playmaker. I think Cruz plays better when he’s at the off guard position and if included in the Gilas Cadet team, he could really fit in being a defensive stopper/slasher.
The Gilas Cadet team are solid with post players in Slaughter, AVO and Almazan. They also have spectacular Gabe Norwood mold stoppers in Kevin Ferrer and Chris Newsome. The team also has a lot of scorers and slashers but I think they could also use some pure shooters to add to their roster. The three point shot is one of the most crucial weapons in a dribble drive motion so I think it’d be good to include the next four players in the conversation.
8. Robin Rono (NU Bulldogs)
Rono has been the best three point shooter for NU in the past season and in this season. He’s actually leading the league in 3pt% right now. Rono plays with a lot of grit and passion which leads him to being a very feisty defender. He’s solid on defense and amazing behind the three point line. He doesn’t really need the ball much and just needs a little bit of daylight to release his shot. He’s so dangerous especially in the corners.
9. Juami Tiongson (Ateneo Blue Eagles)
Tiongson has always been a knockdown shooter from three. In season 75, he shot 16/33 (48.5%) from three in 15 games which is amazing to say the least. Critical in that year was he had so many superstars to play alongside with, that all he had to focus on was shooting threes and he did it spectacularly well. He’ll most likely play well if given the chance to.
10. Clark Bautista (UST Growling Tigers)
Bautista has been a consistent knock down shooter for UST. He’s in the top 10 in 3pt% this year. UST has really utilized Bautista well. The team runs screen plays for him to get open and do the ability the good Lord gave him, shoot threes.
11. Almond Vosotros (La Salle Green Archers)
Vosotros is never shy to shoot the three ball. He and Terrence Romeo are consistently the top 2 in 3pt makes for this year and in season 75. Even though Vosotros has always been a good three point shooter, he continues to find ways to develop his game. Vosotros is currently shooting above 50% from the two point area which is amazing for a guard.
Sidenote: I’m actually excited to see the Gilas 5-out at the end of quarters, where coach Chot literally employs 5 deadly shooters that stand behind the three point line. Can’t wait.