Gilas Vs France: Predictions

Today is G-Day (or Game Day), when we embark on another (and last) journey to snare the last ticket to Rio.

But it’s going to be no walk in the park, as we’re going up against one of the best in the world, FIBA’s 5th-ranked team France. Les Bleus (as they are called) boast of several NBA players, including superstar Tony Parker and veteran Boris Diaw. The French are, in fact, the prohibitive favorites to win this Olympic Qualifying Tournament leg.
That being said, here are three things I expect we’ll see tonight:
Bombs Away. Gilas has relied on their three point marksmanship heavily in the last 2 years and tonight won’t be any different. Andray Blatche, Jayson Castro, Terence Romeo, Ranidel de Ocampo and Jeff Chan need to be on point, for Gilas to have a chance of sticking around. So expect them (plus Bobby Ray Parks and Troy Rosario) to be spotting up from outside. Whether they make those threes or not is a different matter.
Get Your Guards Up. The guard battles will be amazing. While Tony Parker and Nando de Colo will most certainly win, Terence Romeo will never back down and if aggressive Jayson Castro shows up, Gilas might actually have a chance to dictate the flow and slow down the guard-reliant French offense.
Big Man Keys. Boris Diaw (because of the absence of Nicolas Batum) and Andray Blatche will be the keys to their team’s success. If Gilas can stop Diaw from facilitating, they can add to Parker’s point guard duties and wear him down. If the French shuts down Blatche, it’s almost certainly good bye for Gilas.
Final score prediction: France 85, Gilas 75.
France is just too big and too skilled. If we can surprise them with our speed and our threepoint shooting is there, I think we can take them out. But I’m guessing France has properly scouted us and if our shooting is true to our latest form, there’s almost no chance for us to win.
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Road to Glory: Gilas 4.0 beat Iran on their tune-up game (Photos)

Gilas Pilipinas 4.0, proud singing the Philippine National Anthem

Gilas Pilipinas beat Iran on their tune-up game on Wednesday at Smart-Araneta Coliseum. Andrae Blatche leads the Gilas to past the Iranians, 81-70. Gilas showed a glimpse of what they are capable for the upcoming Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Andarae Blatche leads the Gilas with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals and 1 block

Bobby Ray Parks Jr showed his grit, trying to prove he deserve to be in the final lineup

Prior to their tune-up game, Coach Tab Baldwin asked support from Gilas fans as they embark to their three-week European training camp. The team will leave for Europe on Friday to prepare for the Olympic Qualifier Tournament on July 5-10 here in Manila.

Photos by: Aldrin Alejo

The Jordan Clarkson Situation: Good Or Bad?

By now, the news has already sunk in. Jordan Clarkson WILL NOT be suiting up for Gilas Pilipinas come the Manila Olympic Qualifiers.

And while the knee jerk reaction by the public was one of dismay, his absence may actually be a blessing in disguise for the future of Gilas Pilipinas basketball.
Here are four reasons why Jordan Clarkson’s absence may actually prove to be a good thing:
With Clarkson’s citizenship status still unclear, the FIBA committee was taking no chances that they’d see a repeat of the 2011 FIBA Asia Championships, when five members of the Qatari national team were disqualified for having been granted citizenships just to play.
And because the decision on Jordan Clarkson’s case has the potential to set a precedent, the FIBA committee did what they do best: procrastinate. But telling SBP president Manny Pangilinan that Gilas could only play either Andray Blatche or Jordan Clarkson, they were putting the burden on us to decide.
Had we chosen to play Clarkson in Blatche’s place, it would have been tantamount to us saying we consider him to be a naturalized citizen. And other FIBA countries (especially China, Iran, South Korea and Chinese Taipei) would demand that Clarkson be considered such in future tournaments.
By not playing Clarkson now, we can ask the FIBA committee to look at his documents and finally decide (hopefully, in our favor) on Clarkson’s eligibity as a local player.
Don’t get me wrong, Jordan Clarkson is a world-class athlete and a legitimate NBA starting combo-guard. He’s also heads-and-shoulders above anyone we have on Gilas.
But that being said, the guard position is actually where we are stacked to the gills. At point, we’ve got Jason Castro, aka The Best Point Guard In Asia, who is at his peak, LA Tenorio, who has regained his fiery playmaking abilities, and Terence Romeo, who has been the most electrifying player for Gilas so far.
At shooting guard, we have the rugged Paul Lee and the very deadly sharpshooter from Negros, Jeff Chan, plus a host of wing players who’ll double as midsized shooting guards and smaller-than-usual smaller forwards, like Marcio Lassiter, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Calvin Abueva, and Ryan Reyes.
So, to be totally honest, if it’s a choice between an NBA-caliber guard and an NBA-caliber forward/center (Blatche is still NBA_caliber, but of a lower caliber), Gilas needs the big man more. And until the likes of Raymond Almazan, Troy Rosario and even Ian Sangalang finally come into their own, we will continue need the NBA-level big man more than NBA-level guard.
Sure, chances are he will play with Gilas someday. And many teams (most especially Asian teams) are already thinking about how Jordan Clarkson plays and how to neutralize him.
But until that very first tournament when Clarkson suits up and plays for us, no one will know what to do or expect. And much like what happened in Spain, if other countries can’t prepare for how Gilas plays, especiallt with Clarkson at the heart of the offense, then we’ve got a chance to score an upset or two and maybe make an even bigger splash in the global basketball scene.
This offseason, Clarkson has the opportunity to secure his family’s future. With his sterling performance on a ridiculous Lakers team, he’s set for the payday of a lifetime.
Just how much can Clarkson get this offseason? As much as 88.9 million dollars for 4 years from the Lakers. Or 57.9 million dollars from another team (Arenas provision at work here). 
And by not putting pressure on Clarkson to play, we are not piling on to his considerable concerns this offseason. Hopefully, that translates to an appreciative Clarkson who’ll be raring to play for Gilas, once he gets the contract he deserves.
One step back, two steps forward. Sure, our chances of making it to the Olympics got a lot dimmer. But the future of Gilas basketball remains bright if we can do the right thing with Jordan Clarkson.
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GILAS-ables: Vic Manuel

GILAS-ables” is a series of articles that will discuss different players who could make a case for joining the Gilas pool. This series will include Filipinos and Fil-foreign players plying their trade not just in the PBA but also in other leagues, including the US NCAA, the UAAP, and the PBA D-League.
In the fourth article in this series, we’ll talk about a player who’s represented the Philippines in international 3×3 competitions already but has not generated even a single peep with regards to his possible inclusion in the Gilas pool.
Name: Manuel, Vic
Team: Alaska Aces
Height: 6’ 4”
Weight: 201 lbs
College: PSBA
Current Season:
16.4 points per game, 8 rebounds per game, 1.2 assists per game, 1.4 steals per game
8.8 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, 1 assist per game, .5 steals per game
Much like Sean Anthony, a Gilas-able discussed earlier, Vic Manuel was a so-so player until this year, when something suddenly clicked inside the head of the 4-year veteran.
After 2 uneventful years with other teams then a year adjusting to the Alaska Aces system, Manuel suddenly blossomed this year, which was highlighted with a victory over the Terence Romeo-led Manila West 3×3 team and a stint in the 3×3 Master’s Tournament in Abu Dhabi, where they finished in 6th place.
If selected to the Gilas pool, Manuel should be expected to challenge, ironically enough, Alaska teammate Calvin Abueva’s role as slasher/driver, garbage basket man and general, all-around pest.
A shade taller than Abueva at 6-4, Manuel will still be undersized as a small forward, the only position that makes sense for him. However, Manuel does have the heft and muscle to bother much taller players, even while lacking Abueva’s superior foot speed.
Where Manuel is more reliable than Abueva and even other options at SF like Gabe Norwood and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser is at scoring around the basket. He barely has bad shooting nights because he’s very picky about his shots and he never strays far from his strengths.
He also has enough bulk to absorb contact and finish through them as well as the quickness and the guile at the post to get his shot off before shot blockers can react to him. And while it is highly unlikely that Manuel will be the primary scoring option at the blocks, it doesn’t hurt to have him there, especially when Fajardo/Slaughter are out of the game and Blatche is camped out at the 3point line.
But for him to realistically get a shot at a Gilas slot, he has to prove he can play defense on known scorers. That means shutting down the likes of Arwind Santos and Ranidel de Ocampo or, better yet, the mid-sized imports of the league. If Manuel can do that, then he’ll have a leg up on his competition at SF.
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From GILASable to GILAS Able: Raymond Almazan

It’s good to be right.

Last December 4, this blogger named Rain Or Shine’s Raymond Almazan as one of the GILASables (players who should be accorded an invite to the Gilas 4.0 pool). (Read the article here)
Last Monday, Almazan’s game long brilliance was the key to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters cruising past the suddenly toothless Talk ‘N Test Tropang Texters to make their way into the seminfinal round. Almazan shone with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocked shots while making life extremely difficult for the Texters’ duo of promising big men Moala Tautuua and Troy Rosario (both, incidentally, are part of the Gilas pool)
After the game, this happened.
Bye-bye, Ian Sangalang. He was one of the most surprising picks made by Tab Baldwin, seeing as he was coming off an injury-filled year and had not played in a long while. But his height (always a big factor when talking about international basketball), his varied skill set and his potential was enough for Baldwin to take a gamble.

Two months after informal practices had begun, Sangalang has earned the dubious distinction of being the Gilas invitee who barely showed up to the once-a-week practices. What made it worse was the coaching staff seems to have no idea why he seems so disinterested. Some point to his past history with injuries, others to the tension-filled relationship the SBP has with the SMC teams. 
Whatever Sangalang’s actual reason may be, his absences may have been enough to spur Baldwin into looking for other options that fulfill very specific needs. And while Almazan’s game is closer to Japeth Aguilar’s while Sangalang’s is nearer to Ranidel de Ocampo’s, I think it’s safe to say that Almazan has overtaken Sangalang in the race for one of those 12 coveted Gilas roster spots.
And if Almazan continues improving, who’s to say whose spot he might be gunning for next?
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GILAS-ables: Scottie Thompson

“GILAS-ables” is a series of articles that will discuss different players who could make a case for joining the Gilas pool. This series will include Filipinos and Fil-foreign players plying their trade in different leagues, including the US NCAA and the PBA.
In the third article in this series, we’ll talk about a player whose inclusion was made more plausible by the entry of another, much more hyped young player into the Gilas pool.
Name: Thompson, Earl Scottie
Team: Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 180 lbs
College: University of Perpetual Help
4.9 points per game, 2.8 rebounds per game, 2.7 assists per game, .1.4 turnovers per game
NCAA MVP (2014)
Again, if you look at the numbers, there is no way that Scottie Thompson would be considered for a spot in the Gilas. After all, 5 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds are barely even PBA starter numbers, much less numbers of one of the 12 best Filipino players available.
But with college phenom Kiefer Ravena joining the Gilas pool, suddenly, a door has been opened for Thompson to make a similar mark. And that’s because when you think about Thompson’s attributes with regards to Gilas’ needs, the story becomes very interesting.
How? Let’s take a look.
Currently entrenched in the Gilas starting point guard spot is the acknowledged best point guard in Asia, Jayson Castro. Castro is a muscular, cat-quick guard who is equally dangerous shooting the long ball and penetrating inside. The other candidates for the PG spots are veteran LA Tenorio and rising star  Terence Romeo.
LA Tenorio is a masterful court general but is woefully undersized and lacks a defensive presence. Terence Romeo is a tweener, whose size and training puts him at the PG spot but whose talent and inclination make him more suited as a shooting guard.
And that’s where Scottie Thompson has the advantage. Although a deadly scorer with the Perpetual Help Altas, Thompson has proven time and again that he is more than that. At a hefty 6’1”, he’s as much a playmaker and ball distributor as he is a willing rebounder and defender.  And with players like Andray Blatche, Junemar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar and Jeff Chan potentially on the team, scoring will never be a problem but someone needs to make sure each of them get their touches at just the right time and spots.
Thompson has also exhibited a gigantic fighting heart, as he has led the Gin Kings in a couple of heart thumping comeback wins, ironically,  with Tenorio cheering from the sidelines.  More importantly, he did it but making sure the Ginebra machine buckled down on defense and revved up on offense.
Ironically, the players that pose the greatest stumbling blocks to Thompson’s inclusion aren’t point guards either, but three combo guards with point guard skills. First and foremost is the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, who not only should be a lock at the shooting guard position but may also be the best point guard on the team. Another is Rain Or Shine’s Paul Lee, who is basically who Thompson will be in about 3-4 more years. And the third is the aforementioned Kiefer Ravena, who is the superior talent but is also a tweener, like Romeo, and whose greatest skill is scoring, something Gilas does not need.
That being said, Thompson would need to help lead Barangay Ginebra into a historic year before he would be considered for a spot in Gilas. But if they can open the door for Ravena, who has yet to play a PBA game, they can open that same door to a heady court who may provide the answer to a crucial Gilas need.
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GILAS-ables: Sean Anthony

“GILAS-ables” is a series of articles that will discuss different players who could make a case for joining the Gilas pool. This series will include Fil-foreign players plying their trade in other leagues, the US NCAA, and the PBA.
We kick off this series with a surprise entry: NLEX’s blossoming forward Sean Anthony.
Name: Anthony, Sean Michael
Team: NLEX Road Warriors
Height: 6’ 6”
Weight: 200 lbs
College: McGill University (Montreal, Canada)
8.75 points per game, 5.77 rebounds per game, 1.95 assists per game
2015 Season:
20.5 points per game, 12.8 rebounds per game, 4.7 assists per game
If you have been watching the current PBA season, then you know why Sean Anthony should be included in the Gilas pool. He has ore than doubled his career averages in points, rebounds, and assists and have shown a ferocity in his game that the PBA has not seen from him before.
The big man from McGill seemed destined to be a journeyman reserve but has recently dominated the opposition that is reminiscent of a young Benji Paras. In a blazing start to his season, Anthony logged double-doubles in NLEX’s first five games, before barely missing out on a sixth double-double (19pts, 9 rebounds). More importantly, NLEX is among the top PBA teams, with a 4-2 record, above traditional powerhouses like Barangay Ginebra, Talk ‘N Text and Purefoods.
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