Despite player availability issues, Gabe Norwood confident new squad can surpass Gilas' 2013 runner-up finish
Gabe Norwood believes the country has enough talent in the current pool of players to claim the top spot this time. Dante Peralta

GABE Norwood believes the current crop of players at the disposal of national coach Tab Baldwin has what it takes to not just match, but surpass the feat Gilas Pilipinas achieved in the Fiba Asia Championship two years ago.

While acknowledging it’s too early to compare both teams, the longtime national player thinks Gilas 3.0 can at least match the runner-up finish of the 2013 squad that booked for them a return to the world stage after a four-decade absence.

“It’s a little bit too early, but in terms of talent, I think we have the talent to do the same thing, if not better – come out and get the gold,” Norwood said on Monday night after practice ahead of the Asian showpiece event that stakes a ticket to the Rio Olympics next year.

There have been worries that the national team might not field its best possible squad with a handful of players unavailable due to various reasons.

But Norwood believes those who have been attending practice will compose a promising lineup.

“We have a good mix of veterans, guys coming in the middle of their careers peaking, and some young guys who need to prove themselves,” the Rain or Shine utility man said. “So it’s a great combination of players.”

Not to mention Andray Blatche is Gilas’ naturalized Filipino this time, against the squad that had Marcus Douthit two years ago.

Norwood, though, is still hoping teammates Paul Lee, Jeff Chan, and even Beau Belga can be included in the pool, apart from unavailable pool members June Mar Fajardo, Marc Pingris, and LA Tenorio.

“Hopefully things could change,” the versatile forward said. “We still got a little bit of time. Whether it’s Paul or Jeff or June Mar, Ping, and LA, or hopefully Beau (Belga), hopefully all those guys can be here and go for the journey with us.”

“But if not, it is what it is.”

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