Everyone has an opinion. Thus, it was no surprise that #GilasFinal12 or #Gilas12 (or any other Gilas hashtag) were trending last night around the time the final cut was announced on television. And our passion for basketball makes our opinion, well very personal. Our love for basketball and our pride whenever our National Team does well internationally, is a source of happiness and delight.
So, let’s get my opinions out in the open early. I had ideas on who should not make it to the final 12 for Gilas Pilipinas 4.0. Of course, I was never sure whether I’d get things correct or wrong. But in my humble opinion, I imagined 4 players who might be among the 2 who would eventually be cut. My four guys were Calvin Abueva, Marc Pingris, LA Tenorio and Terrence Romeo. Why these 4? Let me elaborate briefly.
Calvin Abueva – Nobody can question his desire, intensity, energy and hustle. The Beast is probably the #1 guy you would love as a teammate but absolutely hate as an opponent. However, for all of his talents, Abueva has the notorious tag of being a “loose cannon”. He can be very unpredictable and his hot-headed nature plus trash-talking persona will often hurt his team more than the opponent. While playing physical is his forte, Calvin is often whistled for cheap fouls, thus, lessening his impact on the game if he is riddled with foul trouble. Aside from all of that, there’s also the inconsistent and unreliable jumper. Wings and bigs need to have a dependable perimeter game in the international level.
Marc Pingris – Pinoy Sakuragi is somewhat on the same boat with Abueva and they bring almost the same intangibles to the team. Pingris plays with energy, intensity and passion. He will do all the “dirty work” without asking for the ball on offense. He can be effective without scoring because Ping will let his defense do the talking. Sadly, that’s where his case to be added to the final roster weakens. All players on the floor must be a threat to score. Therefore, a good outside shot helps immensely. Pingris does not have that in his arsenal because he operates more in the paint with his hook shots and under the basket stabs. Such tactics won’t be very effective against bigger and taller players in FIBA tourneys.
LA Tenorio – His outside shot has already improved and his playmaking abilities are more refined and dependable. However, Tenorio is still prone to making mistakes with the ball and he can be hounded with poor decisions that lead to turnovers. His ball-handling is okay but his size might be a detriment when it comes to defending opposing guards. Aside from these, Gilas has a bevy of guys who can bring up the ball and play a little bit of PG duties (Castro, Parks, Romeo, Reyes and even Blatche to a certain degree). The team composition does not favor Tenorio’s inclusion. If he stayed, who would be removed?
Terrence Romeo – He is certainly one of the best scorers in the PBA. He can drive, launch floaters and hit threes. His ball-handling skills are otherworldly and fans get excited every time he touches the ball. See, there’s where the problem can be found. Romeo is a topnotch shot creator and shot maker, however, his shot selection can drive coaches crazy. Moreover, Romeo loves isolation plays and his passing ability needs to vastly improve. If he becomes a playmaker who involves others more and listens to his coaches, then Romeo can be an instant MVP contender every year.
Now that the final lineup has been released, we know who the final 12 are and the 2 players who did not make it (Tenorio and Abueva). Man, getting cut is always a tough pill to swallow. They are all professional players and they sacrificed a lot to join Gilas. Hence, to be told that you are not needed for the Manila OQT next month is agonizing and excruciating. Having the announcement done on TV might have made the situation more embarrassing as well.
Still, I haven’t heard Abueva or Tenorio getting mad or lashing out at the coaching staff for their omission from the team. Coach Tab even tweeted that both guys were very supportive and professional about this. Thus, I truly believe that Calvin and LA will continue to assist Gilas in any way they can even if they are not officially with the final 12.
Why? Because they have the best intentions of the team and country in their hearts.
Look, if your favorite player did not make it to the final roster, that’s too bad. Someone had to be cut and it’s unfortunate that Tenorio and Abueva were the choices. I’m sure they gave Gilas and Coach Tab Baldwin their full effort aside from offering their hearts and bodies to our beloved country. It just didn’t work out this time around. Hopefully, they will continue to support Gilas and I expect them to heed the country’s call the next time our National Team needs their services.
We must remember that Coach Tab and his coaching staff had to make a daunting decision. They witnessed things we were not able to see during their time together. We weren’t there during practice and we did not observe what happened behind the scenes. We have no idea how players reacted when given lectures or an earful. Were they respectful and receptive of criticisms? Or did they ignore messages and defy the coaches? Heck, we don’t even know how (and if) the team bonded during the course of their European trip.
Bottom line, the coaching staff made the choices which they truly believe will make the team better. They know things, we don’t, period. We just have to trust them. Incidentally, Gilas Pilipinas also won their game vs China after the final team announcements were made. Maybe, the team can play relaxed and with stability because anxieties from being cut have left their minds.
(Editor’s note: Terrence Romeo proved his worth in the team with back-to-back big games, scoring 10 vs Italy and leading Gilas with 18 points against China while Marc Pingris also was clutch in that win over their Asian rivals.)
Furthermore, instead of getting angry, disappointed or frustrated with the chosen lineup, we should all rally around Gilas Pilipinas and give them our never-ending support and prayers. The team has been away for a few weeks, enduring practice twice a day while lifting weights or doing conditioning drills during breaks. Aside from those, they were also in a foreign place, far from their families and loved ones. These guys are sacrificing a lot to play for our country. The least we could do for them is to give our unconditional love together with a lot of encouragement. Our home court advantage MUST be evident and influential during the Manila OQT.
Lastly, please stop saying that Gilas Pilipinas has less or no heart because guys were cut from the team or certain players were not included. Every single one of them has puso. These guys will fight for our country in a week. Their journey to the Rio Olympics should be a joint and united effort, theirs and OURS. #LabanPilipinas #PUSO – By Rolly Mendoza
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