CADET players of Smart Gilas 2.0 are making the most out of the experience of playing alongside PBA players in the team.
Majority of the cadet players from the collegiate and amateur ranks have relished the opportunity to hone their skills alongside the pros since joining the national team's buildup for the 24th Dubai International Basketball Tournament just before Christmas.
“Magandang experience para sa amin,” said RR Garcia, who plays for NLEX in the PBA D-League and Far Eastern University in the UAAP.
The unavailability of several professional players has opened the doors for members of the Gilas cadet pool to gain the needed experience in the January 10-19 Dubai tournament.
Meralco’s JR Reyes and Ronjay Buenafe, and Air21’s Nino Canaleta are the only PBA players in the squad with Gary David of Globalport and LA Tenorio of Barangay Ginebra, both members of the Smart Gilas squad that captured the 2012 Jones Cup in Taipei, begging off from the Dubai trip to rest nagging injuries.
Naturalized cager Marcus Douthit, Garvo Lanete, and Matt Ganuelas are the only players in the team with previous experience of playing for Gilas.
Aside from Garcia, completing the cast of the cadet members of the team are high-scoring Letran star Kevin Alas, seven-footer Greg Slaughter, San Sebastian's Ronald Pascual, San Beda's Jake Pascual, and Fil-Am Justin Melton.
Garcia, who already saw action for the Philippine team in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia, said that the professional cagers do not mind sharing their knowledge to the cadet squad.
“Sila Gary (David) at Ronjay (Buenafe),” said Garcia when asked on who among the pro players have been unselfish with help. “May nag-gaguide, may nagtuturo.”
Alas said that the level of play even in practice is definitely a notch higher with Gilas.
“Masarap kasama ng mga pro players,” said Alas. “Kapag kalaro mo sa practice, it feels na parang nasa PBA ka na. Nagtuturo rin sila ng mga experience nila.”