Palawan, how is our very own Team Pilipinas Basketball team shaping up for the World Cup? It seems the team is starting off in a not so good note with Asia’s best guard Jayson Castro and mainstay Scottie Thompson begging off from the team.

We understand Castro’s need to spend more time with family as he already represented the country in numerous international events squeezed between his responsibilities with his PBA ball club, the TnT Ka Tropa. It’s not easy having to practice and stay in shape all year long and Castro is not getting any younger either. Time for the young Turks to take over.

Scottie Thompson, who also begged off from the team, is also a blow to the bench depth of our team’s guard rotation. It is also ironic that Ray Parks Jr. also declined to join the team as he was quoted to have mentioned that he had to give way to those who worked hard for the team to get to the World Cup.

It looks like our guard rotation will focus on comebacking Kiefer Ravena, Mark Barroca (part of the Rajko Toroman original Gilas team), Paul Lee, Alex Cabagnot and Jio Jalalon. For insurance, North Port rookie Robert Bolick has also been invited to be part of the training pool. It is uncertain, at this point, if Terrence Romeo will be extended an invite to join.

In finalizing a 12-man line-up, we would need 3 point guards on the team. Personally, Cabagnot, Barroca and Ravena are my picks for the 1 spot rotation. Alex and Mark can provide the veteran stability our backcourt needs while Kiefer can be a very effective relief point guard when we need rallies or offensive spurts.

Paul Lee can slide to the 2 position but we all know he could be at a disadvantage in the worlds having to compete against players 5-6 inches taller than him. The 2 spot could be a lock for Matthew Wright and Marco Lassiter as both players are “big enough” to at least not to be overmatched in that position. If only we could confirm Jordan Clarkson can play. That will solve the scoring threat we need at the wings.

It also looks like Gabe Norwood and Troy Rosario are locks at small forward and our big men should be ably filled by NBA veteran Andre Blatch, Junemar Fajardo, Japheth Aguilar, and Poy Erram. If only Greg Slaughter can suit up at least for the pool just in case any of our big men fall to injury so we could have an insurance big man. Raymond Almazan can also be a back up big although, at 6’7, it would be hard to envision him pushing 7 footers outside the paint. Size matters on this level of international play.

Do we have the pieces to compete well in our bracket? That’s a big question mark as we are up against a powerhouse group that includes Serbia, Italy, and Angola. The two European teams are heavily laden with three-point shooters so our defense needs to be quick at the ball. Angola is expected to be very athletic so our guys, needless to say, have to be in top shape to advance to the next round. A very tall order. That’s what our boys are facing in the World Cup. Let’s wish our boys the best as they march and play for flag and country.

The Greek Freak is MVP

It’s Giannis Antetokounmpo who bagged the 2018-2019 National Basketball Association (NBA) regular season most valuable player award. It is well deserved as he led the Milwaukee Bucks to a league-leading 60-22 win-loss record in the eliminations. He also led the Bucks to an Eastern Conference final showdown against eventual world champion the Toronto Raptors.

It’s the Greek Freak’s year and a year of global winners in the NBA with the Raptors being the first none US-based basketball team to bag the crown. Luca Doncic, another international star, also won rookie of the year. The NBA is revving up international basketball and I won’t be surprised should we start seeing franchises in Mexico or even in Europe. They have a very dynamic and visionary commissioner in Adam Silver and we expect more exciting seasons ahead with the dawn of the Zion Williamson era.

(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)

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