The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 reels off on Friday, with co-host Gilas Pilipinas taking on Dominican Republic at the Philippine Arena. Gilas still hasn’t released its final roster, although they don’t need to do so until Wednesday.
Coach Chot Reyes said he would use the tune-up games against Cote D’Ivoire, Montenegro and Mexico as basis for choosing the final 12. Gilas went 1-2 in those matches, beating Ivory Coast by 23 and losing to Montenegro by 15 and Mexico by 7 (Jordan Clarkson sat out the Mexico game).
With those games over, here are our predictions for the Gilas 12. We’ve grouped the players into four categories: those who are most certainly in, those who have one foot in the door, those whose chances aren’t looking good, and those who are probably out.
These players have the best chance of grabbing a roster spot because of sheer talent, height or skill set.
Japeth Aguilar: Like June Mar Fajardo, Aguilar has the most to offer in terms of experience. His height, athleticism and outside shooting make him invaluable.
Jordan Clarkson: No need to explain. Of course he’s in.
AJ Edu: This team is thin on big men, so Edu will surely get a spot especially after his good showing in China. He also got ample exposure in the tune-up games.
June Mar Fajardo: JMF may be the oldest player in the pool, but that means he’s also the most experienced. Gilas can’t go without him in the middle.
Jamie Malonzo: With Gilas short on big men, Malonzo’s skill set and physical attributes make him practically indispensable. He was wildly inconsistent in China, but he has the athleticism, height and offensive game that translate well in international play.
Dwight Ramos: Outside of Clarkson, Ramos is Gilas’ best baller. He can play three positions, bring up the ball, hit it from the outside and play defense.
Kai Sotto: Even though he’s way short on practice time and had an uneven performance in the tune-up games, Sotto should get the nod as Gilas is short on big men.
Scottie Thompson: The reigning PBA MVP didn’t miss a beat after sitting out a month with a hand fracture — seamlessly sliding back into his starting point guard spot during the tune-up games. Thompson looks ready to go.
Looks good, but will wait anxiously
All the players here should should be OK, but because they didn’t see too much run time, they’ll be a little nervous while waiting for the official announcement.
Rhenz Abando: Like the others in this list, Abando’s playing time in the tune-ups hovered around the 10-12 minute range. He averaged 3.3 PPG, including a scoreless outing against Montenegro. He should probably be in, but he plays the same position as Clarkson, and the coaching staff just might opt to go in another direction.
CJ Perez: Perez looked fabulous at times in China and even in Europe, but Clarkson’s arrival took some of his minutes during the first two tune-up games. Yet even against Mexico, a game Clarkson sat out, Perez played less than 10 minutes, which you’d think would be a red flag. At the same time, he’s a talented shot creator, and the team could use him as an offensive spark off the bench.
RR Pogoy: Until the game against Mexico, where he played 20 minutes and finished with nine points, Pogoy had been on a pretty bad shooting slump that started in China. The extended playing time in their last tune-up could be seen as a vote of confidence from the coaching staff. Besides, he’s the only pure shooter on the roster.
Kiefer Ravena: In all fairness, Kiefer probably should be a lock as well. He was named team captain in Thompson’s absence, and he quarterbacked well for the team in China. But his playing time in the tune-up games was only around 11 minutes, as he was another player impacted by the additions of Clarkson and Thompson. He’s likely to get the back-up point guard slot unless the coaches go with Chris Newsome instead.
Not looking good
Judging solely by their playing time in the tune-ups, they’re the odd men out.
Chris Newsome: Newsome played around four minutes each against Ivory Coast and Mexico, and was benched against Montenegro. He had looked good in China, and even started in a couple of games, but Thompson’s return has eaten into his playing time.
Calvin Oftana: Oftana wasn’t listed in Gilas’ roster against Ivory Coast. He was inserted into the roster against Montenegro, but played just four minutes and went scoreless. Against Mexico he was the only player on the roster who registered a DNP.
The only players who didn’t see a single minute of playing time in the tune-ups.
Thirdy Ravena: It’s not too surprising to see him here considering he played the fewest minutes in China.
Ray Parks: Parks’ inclusion here is more surprising considering he played meaningful minutes in China and was present for all the Gilas practices after they came home. It could be a nagging injury that’s worsened, or maybe he hasn’t fully recovered from the calf issue that prevented him from joining the Europe trip.